Cytochrome c oxidase maintains mitochondrial respiration during partial inhibition by nitric oxide

Miriam Palacios-Callender, Veronica Hollis, Nanci Frakich, Jesús Mateo, Salvador Moncada

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Nitric oxide (NO), generated endogenously in NO-Synthase-transfected cells, increases the reduction of mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase (CcO) at O2 concentrations ([O2]) above those at which it inhibits cell respiration. Thus, in cells respiring to anoxia, the addition of 2.5 μM L-arginine at 70 μM O2 resulted in reduction of CcO and inhibition of respiration at [O2] of 64.0±0.8 and 24.8±0.8 μM, respectively. This separation of the two effects of NO is related to electron turnover of the enzyme, because the addition of electron donors resulted in inhibition of respiration at progressively higher [O2], and to their eventual convergence. Our results indicate that partial inhibition of CcO by NO leads to an accumulation of reduced cytochrome c and, consequently, to an increase in electron flux through the enzyme population not inhibited by NO. Thus, respiration is maintained without compromising the bioenergetic status of the cell. We suggest that this is a physiological mechanism regulated by the flux of electrons in the mitochondria and by the changing ratio of O2:NO, either during hypoxia or, as a consequence of increases in NO, as a result of cell stress.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)160-165
    Number of pages5
    JournalJournal of Cell Science
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2007


    • Cytochrome c oxidase
    • Electron turnover
    • Mitochondrial respiration
    • Nitric oxide
    • Redox state


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