The F(1)F(0) ATP synthase and mitochondrial respiratory chain complexes are present on the plasma membrane of an osteosarcoma cell line: An immunocytochemical study

Mitochondrion. 2006 Dec;6(6):305-14. doi: 10.1016/j.mito.2006.10.001. Epub 2006 Oct 14.


F(1)F(0) ATP synthase is ectopically expressed on the surface of several cell types, including endothelium and cancer cells. This study uses immunocytochemical detection methods via highly specific monoclonal antibodies to explore the possibility of plasma membrane localization of other mitochondrial proteins using an osteosarcoma cell line in which the location of the mitochondrial reticulum can be clearly traced by green fluorescent protein tagging of the organelle. We found that subunits of three of the four respiratory chain complexes were present on the surface of these cells. Additionally, we show for the first time that F(0) subunits d and OSCP of the ATP synthase are ectopically expressed. In all cases the OXPHOS proteins show a punctate distribution, consistent with data from proteome analysis of isolated lipid rafts that place the various mitochondrial proteins in plasma membrane microdomains. We also examined the cell surface for marker membrane proteins from several other intracellular organelles including ER, golgi and nuclear envelope. They were not found on the surface of the osteosarcoma cells. We conclude that mitochondrial membrane proteins are ectopically expressed, but not proteins from other cellular organelles. A specific mechanism by which the mitochondrion and plasma membrane fuse to deliver organellar proteins is suggested.

MeSH terms

  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Membrane / enzymology*
  • Electron Transport*
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Mitochondria / metabolism*
  • Osteosarcoma / enzymology*
  • Osteosarcoma / pathology*
  • Protein Subunits
  • Proton-Translocating ATPases / metabolism*


  • Protein Subunits
  • Proton-Translocating ATPases