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Expression and functional analysis of SURF1 in Leigh syndrome patients with cytochrome c oxidase deficiency

, : Expression and functional analysis of SURF1 in Leigh syndrome patients with cytochrome c oxidase deficiency. Human Molecular Genetics 8(13): 2541-2549

Leigh syndrome (LS) associated with cytochrome c oxidase (COX) deficiency is an autosomal recessive neurodegenerative disorder caused by mutations in SURF1. Although SURF1 is ubiquitously expressed, its expression is lower in brain than in other highly aerobic tissues. All reported SURF1 mutations are loss of function, predicting a truncated protein (hSurf1) product. Western blot analysis with anti-hSurf1 antibodies demonstrated a specific 30 kDa protein in control fibroblasts, but no protein in LS patient cells. Steady-state levels of both nuclear- and mitochondrial-encoded COX subunits were also markedly reduced in patient cells, consistent with a failure to assemble or maintain a normal amount of the enzyme complex. An epitope (FLAG)-tagged hSurf1 was targeted to mitochondria in COS7 cells and a mitochondrial import assay showed that the hSurf1 precursor protein (35 kDa) was imported and processed to its mature form (30 kDa) in a membrane potential-dependent fashion. The protein was resistant to alkaline carbonate extraction and susceptible to proteinase K digestion in mitoplasts. Mutant proteins in which the N-terminal transmembrane domain or central loop were deleted, or the C-terminal transmembrane domain disrupted, did not accumulate and could not rescue COX activity in patient cells. Co-expression of the N- and C-terminal transmembrane domains as independent entities also failed to rescue the enzyme deficiency. These data demonstrate that hSurf1 is an integral inner membrane protein with an essential role in the assembly or maintenance of the COX complex and that insertion of both transmembrane domains in the intact protein is necessary for function.


PMID: 10556303

DOI: 10.1093/hmg/8.13.2541

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