Functional expression of electron transport chain complexes in mouse rod outer segments

Biochimie. 2014 Jul;102:78-82. doi: 10.1016/j.biochi.2014.02.007. Epub 2014 Feb 21.


Rod photoreceptors efficiently carry out phototransduction cascade, an energetically costly process. Our recent data in bovine rod outer segment (OS) demonstrated that ATP for phototransduction is produced by an extramitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation, thanks to the expression of the Electron Transport Chain (ETC) complexes and of F1Fo ATP synthase in disks. Here we have focused on mouse retinas, reporting the activity of ETC complexes I, II, IV assayed directly on unfixed mouse eye sections, as well as immunogold TEM analysis of fixed mouse eye sections to verify the presence of ND4L subunit of ETC complex I and subunit IV of ETC complex IV in rod OS. Data suggest the presence of functional ETC in mouse rod OS, like their bovine counterpart. The protocol here developed for in situ assay of the ETC complexes activity represents a reliable method for the detection of ETC dysfunction in mice models of retinal pathologies. In fact, the ETC is a major source of reactive oxygen intermediates, and oxidative stress, especially when ectopically expressed in the OS. In turn, oxidative stress contributes to many retinal pathologies, such as diabetic retinopathy, age related macular degeneration, photoreceptor death after retinal detachment and some forms of retinitis pigmentosa.

Keywords: Electron transport chain protein; Retinal diseases; Retinal sections; Rod outer segments; Transmission electron microscopy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cattle
  • Electron Transport Complex IV / biosynthesis*
  • Electron Transport Complex IV / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Mice
  • Mitochondria / metabolism
  • Oxidative Phosphorylation
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Photoreceptor Cells / metabolism
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism
  • Retina / metabolism*
  • Retina / pathology
  • Retinitis Pigmentosa / etiology
  • Retinitis Pigmentosa / metabolism*
  • Retinitis Pigmentosa / pathology
  • Rod Cell Outer Segment / metabolism*
  • Rod Cell Outer Segment / pathology


  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Electron Transport Complex IV