Structures of mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation supercomplexes and mechanisms for their stabilisation

Biochim Biophys Acta. 2014 Apr;1837(4):418-26. doi: 10.1016/j.bbabio.2013.10.004. Epub 2013 Oct 30.


Oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) is the main source of energy in eukaryotic cells. This process is performed by means of electron flow between four enzymes, of which three are proton pumps, in the inner mitochondrial membrane. The energy accumulated in the proton gradient over the inner membrane is utilized for ATP synthesis by a fifth OXPHOS complex, ATP synthase. Four of the OXPHOS protein complexes associate into stable entities called respiratory supercomplexes. This review summarises the current view on the arrangement of the electron transport chain in mitochondrial cristae. The functional role of the supramolecular organisation of the OXPHOS system and the factors that stabilise such organisation are highlighted. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: Dynamic and ultrastructure of bioenergetic membranes and their components.

Keywords: ATP synthase; Electron microscopy; Mitochondria; Oxidative phosphorylation; Supercomplex.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Electron Transport
  • Electron Transport Chain Complex Proteins / chemistry*
  • Electron Transport Chain Complex Proteins / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Mitochondrial Membranes / metabolism*
  • Models, Biological
  • Models, Molecular
  • Oxidative Phosphorylation*
  • Plant Proteins / chemistry
  • Plant Proteins / metabolism
  • Protein Conformation


  • Electron Transport Chain Complex Proteins
  • Plant Proteins