Special Reviews

Oxidative Phosphorylation at the fin de siècle

Science  05 Mar 1999:
Vol. 283, Issue 5407, pp. 1488-1493
DOI: 10.1126/science.283.5407.1488

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Abstract

Mitochondria produce most of the energy in animal cells by a process called oxidative phosphorylation. Electrons are passed along a series of respiratory enzyme complexes located in the inner mitochondrial membrane, and the energy released by this electron transfer is used to pump protons across the membrane. The resultant electrochemical gradient enables another complex, adenosine 5′-triphosphate (ATP) synthase, to synthesize the energy carrier ATP. Important new mechanistic insights into oxidative phosphorylation have emerged from recent three-dimensional structural analyses of ATP synthase and two of the respiratory enzyme complexes, cytochrome bc1 and cytochrome c oxidase. This work, and new enzymological studies of ATP synthase's unusual catalytic mechanism, are reviewed here.

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