Sequences of 20 subunits of NADH:ubiquinone oxidoreductase from bovine heart mitochondria. Application of a novel strategy for sequencing proteins using the polymerase chain reaction

J Mol Biol. 1992 Aug 20;226(4):1051-72. doi: 10.1016/0022-2836(92)91052-q.


NADH:ubiquinone oxidoreductase, the first enzyme in the respiratory electron transport chain of mitochondria, is a membrane-bound multi-subunit assembly, and the bovine heart enzyme is now known to contain about 40 different polypeptides. Seven of them are encoded in the mitochondrial DNA; the remainder are the products of nuclear genes and are imported into the organelle. The primary structures of 12 of the nuclear coded subunits have been described and those of a further 20 are described here. The subunits have been sequenced by following a strategy based on the polymerase chain reaction. This strategy has been tailored from existing methods with the twofold aim of avoiding the use of cDNA libraries, and of obtaining a cDNA sequence rapidly with minimal knowledge of protein sequence, such as can be determined in a single N-terminal sequence experiment on a polypeptide spot on a two-dimensional gel. The utility and speed of this strategy have been demonstrated by sequencing cDNAs encoding 32 nuclear-coded-membrane associated proteins found in bovine heart mitochondria, and the procedures employed are illustrated with reference to the cDNA sequence of the 20 subunits of NADH:ubiquinone oxidoreductase that are presented. Extensive use has also been made of electrospray mass spectrometry to measure molecular masses of the purified subunits. This has corroborated the protein sequences of subunits with unmodified N terminals, and their measured molecular masses agree closely with those calculated from the protein sequences. Nine of the subunits, B8, B9, B12, B13, B14, B15, B17, B18 and B22 have modified alpha-amino groups. The measured molecular masses of subunits B8, B13, B14 and B17 are consistent with the post-translational removal of the initiator methionine and N-acetylation of the adjacent amino acid. The initiator methionine of subunit B18 has been removed and the N-terminal glycine modified by myristoylation. Subunits B9 and B12 appear to have N-terminal and other modifications of a hitherto unknown nature. The sequences of the subunits of bovine complex I provide important clues about the location of iron-sulphur clusters and substrate and cofactor binding sites, and give valuable information about the topology of the complex. No function has been ascribed to many of the subunits, but some of the sequences indicate the presence of hitherto unsuspected biochemical functions. Most notably the identification of an acyl carrier protein in both the bovine and Neurospora crassa complexes provides evidence that part of the complex may play a role in fatty acid biosynthesis in the organelle, possibly in the formation of cardiolipin.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence*
  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • Biological Transport
  • Cattle
  • Cell Nucleus
  • Cloning, Molecular / methods
  • DNA, Single-Stranded / genetics
  • Electron Transport / physiology
  • Mass Spectrometry / methods
  • Membrane Proteins / genetics
  • Mitochondria, Heart / enzymology*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • NAD(P)H Dehydrogenase (Quinone) / chemistry*
  • NAD(P)H Dehydrogenase (Quinone) / genetics
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction / methods*
  • Protein Conformation
  • Sequence Homology, Nucleic Acid


  • DNA, Single-Stranded
  • Membrane Proteins
  • NAD(P)H Dehydrogenase (Quinone)

Associated data

  • GENBANK/X63208
  • GENBANK/X63209
  • GENBANK/X63210
  • GENBANK/X63211
  • GENBANK/X63212
  • GENBANK/X63213
  • GENBANK/X63214
  • GENBANK/X63215
  • GENBANK/X63216
  • GENBANK/X63217
  • GENBANK/X63218
  • GENBANK/X63219
  • GENBANK/X63220
  • GENBANK/X63221
  • GENBANK/X63222
  • GENBANK/X63223
  • GENBANK/X63224
  • GENBANK/X64836
  • GENBANK/X64897
  • GENBANK/X64898