Kerscher SJ, Okun JG, Brandt U

J Cell Sci. 1999 Jul;112 ( Pt 14):2347-54

NADH:ubiquinone oxidoreductases catalyse the first step within the diverse pathways of mitochondrial NADH oxidation. In addition to the energy-conserving form commonly called complex I, fungi and plants contain much simpler alternative NADH:ubiquinone oxido-reductases that catalyze the same reaction but do not translocate protons across the inner mitochondrial membrane. Little is known about the distribution and function of these enzymes. We have identified YLNDH2 as the only gene encoding an alternative NADH:ubiquinone oxidoreductase (NDH2) in the obligate aerobic yeast Yarrowia lipolytica. Cells carrying a deletion of YLNDH2 were fully viable; full inhibition by piericidin A indicated that complex I activity was the sole NADH:ubiquinone oxidoreductase activity left in the deletion strains. Studies with intact mitochondria revealed that NDH2 in Y. lipolytica is oriented towards the external face of the mitochondrial inner membrane. This is in contrast to the situation seen in Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Neurospora crassa and in green plants, where internal alternative NADH:ubiquinone oxidoreductases have been reported. Phylogenetic analysis of known NADH:ubiquinone oxidoreductases suggests that during evolution conversion of an ancestral external alternative NADH:ubiquinoneoxidoreductase to an internal enzyme may have paved the way for the loss of complex I in fermenting yeasts like S. cerevisiae.