In mammals, complex I (NADH-ubiquinone oxidoreductase) of the mitochondrial respiratory chain has 31 supernumerary subunits in addition to the 14 conserved from prokaryotes to humans. Multiplicity of structural protein components, as well as of biogenesis factors, makes complex I a sensible pace-maker of mitochondrial respiration. The work reviewed here shows that the cAMP/PKA pathway regulates the biogenesis, assembly and catalytic activity of complex I and mitochondrial oxygen superoxide production. The structural, functional and regulatory complexity of complex I, renders it particularly vulnerable to genetic and sporadic pathological factors. Complex I dysfunction has, indeed, been found, to be associated with several human diseases. Knowledge of the pathogenetic mechanisms of these diseases can help to develop new therapeutic strategies.
Copyright Â© 2011 Federation of European Biochemical Societies. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.