The mitochondrial respiratory chain, and in particular, complex I, is a major source of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in cells. Elevated levels of ROS are associated with an imbalance between the rate of ROS formation and the capacity of the antioxidant defense system. Increased ROS production may lead to oxidation of DNA, lipids and proteins and thus can affect fundamental cellular processes. The aim of this study was to investigate the magnitude of intracellular oxidative stress in fibroblasts of patients with Leigh syndrome with defined mutations in complex I. Moreover, we hypothesized that activation of the p66Shc protein (phosphorylation of p66Shc at Ser36 by PKCβ), being part of the oxidative stress response pathway, is partially responsible for the increased ROS production in cells with dysfunctional complex I. Characterization of bioenergetic parameters and ROS production showed that the cellular model of Leigh syndrome is described by increased intracellular oxidative stress and oxidative damage to DNA and proteins, which correlate with increased p66Shc phosphorylation at Ser36. Treatment of patients' fibroblasts with hispidin (an inhibitor of the protein kinase PKCβ), in addition to decreasing ROS production and intracellular oxidative stress, resulted in restoration of complex I activity.
Keywords: Complex I deficiency; Hispidin; Leigh syndrome; Mitochondrial dysfunction; Reactive oxygen species.
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