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Paper of the Month

Oxidative stress is tightly regulated by cytochrome c phosphorylation and respirasome factors in mitochondria


A. Guerra-Castellano, A. Díaz-Quintana, G. Pérez-Mejías, C. A. Elena-Real, K. González-Arzola, S. M. García-Mauriño, M. A. De la Rosa, I. Díaz-Moreno Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA 2018, Vol. 0, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1806833115

Respiratory cytochrome c has been found to be phosphorylated at tyrosine 97 in the postischemic brain upon neuroprotective insulin treatment, but how such posttranslational modification affects mitochondrial metabolism is unclear. Here, we report the structural features and functional behavior of a phosphomimetic cytochrome c mutant, which was generated by site-specific incorporation at position 97 of p-carboxymethyl-L-phenylalanine using the evolved tRNA synthetase method. We found that the point mutation does not alter the overall folding and heme environment of cytochrome c, but significantly affects the entire oxidative phosphorylation process. In fact, the electron donation rate of the mutant heme protein to cytochrome c oxidase, or complex IV, within respiratory supercomplexes was higher than that of the wild-type species, in agreement with the observed decrease in reactive oxygen species production. Direct contact of cytochrome c with the respiratory supercomplex factor HIGD1A (hypoxia-inducible domain family member 1A) is reported here, with the mutant heme protein exhibiting a lower affinity than the wild-type species. Interestingly, phosphomimetic cytochrome c also exhibited a lower caspase-3 activation activity. Altogether, these findings yield a better understanding of the molecular basis for mitochondrial metabolism in acute diseases, such as brain ischemia, and thus could allow the use of phosphomimetic cytochrome c as a neuroprotector with therapeutic applications.