Sources of superoxide/H2O2 during mitochondrial proline oxidation

Redox Biol. 2014 Jul 18;2:901-9. doi: 10.1016/j.redox.2014.07.003. eCollection 2014.


p53 Inducible gene 6 (PIG6) encodes mitochondrial proline dehydrogenase (PRODH) and is up-regulated several fold upon p53 activation. Proline dehydrogenase is proposed to generate radicals that contribute to cancer cell apoptosis. However, there are at least 10 mitochondrial sites that can produce superoxide and/or H2O2, and it is unclear whether proline dehydrogenase generates these species directly, or instead drives production by other sites. Amongst six cancer cell lines, ZR75-30 human breast cancer cells had the highest basal proline dehydrogenase levels, and mitochondria isolated from ZR75-30 cells consumed oxygen and produced H2O2 with proline as sole substrate. Insects use proline oxidation to fuel flight, and mitochondria isolated from Drosophila melanogaster were even more active with proline as sole substrate than ZR75-30 mitochondria. Using mitochondria from these two models we identified the sites involved in formation of superoxide/H2O2 during proline oxidation. In mitochondria from Drosophila the main sites were respiratory complexes I and II. In mitochondria from ZR75-30 breast cancer cells the main sites were complex I and the oxoglutarate dehydrogenase complex. Even with combinations of substrates and respiratory chain inhibitors designed to minimize the contributions of other sites and maximize any superoxide/H2O2 production from proline dehydrogenase itself, there was no significant direct contribution of proline dehydrogenase to the observed H2O2 production. Thus proline oxidation by proline dehydrogenase drives superoxide/H2O2 production, but it does so mainly or exclusively by providing anaplerotic carbon for other mitochondrial dehydrogenases and not by producing superoxide/H2O2 directly.

Keywords: A5, atpenin A5; AT, aminotransferase; Asp, asparate; Cancer cell mitochondria; Drosophila; Electron transport chain; GDH, glutamate dehydrogenase; GSA, glutamic semi-aldehyde; Hydrogen peroxide; IF, flavin of complex I; IIF, flavin of complex II; IIIQo, quinone binding site on the outer/cytosolic face of complex III; OF, Flavin of the oxoglutarate dehydrogenase complex; OGDH, 2-oxoglutarate dehydrogenase complex; Oxa, oxaloacetate; P5C, Δ1-pyrroline-5-carboxylate; PIG6, proline dehydrogenase inducible gene 6; PRODH, proline dehydrogenase; Proline dehydrogenase (PRODH); ROS, reactive oxygen species; Reactive oxygen species; SCS, succinyl-CoA synthase; Superoxide; TCA, tricarboxylic acid; oAB, o-aminobenzaldehyde.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Line
  • Drosophila melanogaster
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen Peroxide / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Mitochondria / chemistry
  • Mitochondria / metabolism*
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Proline / metabolism*
  • Superoxides / metabolism*


  • Superoxides
  • Proline
  • Hydrogen Peroxide