Phosphate transport in rat liver mitochondria. Membrane components labeled by N ethylmaleimide during inhibition of transport

W. A. Coty, P. L. Pedersen

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42 Scopus citations


N ethylmaleimide (NEM) inhibits the transport of phosphate in mitochondria but is without effect on permeation of other metabolites. In spite of its specificity for inhibition of phosphate transport, NEM reacts in an unspecific manner with inner membrane proteins in general. Treatment of mitochondria with [3H]NEM just sufficient to produce inhibition of phosphate transport results in labeling of at least 10 polypeptide components of the inner membrane. A marked increase in the specificity of reaction of NEM for components of the phosphate transport system is attained by first protecting the transport system with p mercuribenzoate (p MB) and then by irreversibly blocking reactive sulfhydryl groups unassociated with transport by the addition of unlabeled NEM. Subsequent addition of dithiothreitol removes p MB and restores 65 to 75% of the original phosphate transport activity. Reinhibition of transport with [3H]NEM results in both a 6 fold decrease in the amount of [3H]NEM bound by purified inner membrane vesicles and a substantial reduction in the number of labeled polypeptide components. Five distinct labeled species are detected by this method, one of which is a 32,000 mol wt protein containing 40% of the bound radioactivity, or approximately 160 pmol/mg of inner membrane protein. Correlation of binding of [3H]NEM by inner membrane proteins with inhibition of phosphate transport suggests that the maximum concentration of the NEM sensitive component of the phosphate transport system is 60 pmol/mg of mitochondrial protein. This value, when combined with the Vmax of NEM sensitive transport of 205 nmol x min-1 x mg-1 at 0° yields an approximate minimum turnover for this process of 3500 min-1 at 0°. This turnover number is at least 20 fold greater than similarly calculated values for adenine nucleotide transport and succinate oxidation in rat liver mitochondria at this temperature. Taken together these results suggest that the NEM sensitive phosphate transport system in rat liver mitochondria has an unusually high catalytic activity compared to other mitochondrial processes, and that at least one of the 5 NEM binding proteins is likely to be an essential component of this transport system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3515-3521
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number9
StatePublished - 1975
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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