Mammalian mitochondria contain about 1100 proteins, nearly 300 of which are uncharacterized. Given the well-established role of mitochondrial defects in human disease, functional characterization of these proteins may shed new light on disease mechanisms. Starting with yeast as a model system, we investigated an uncharacterized but highly conserved mitochondrial protein (named here Sdh5). Both yeast and human Sdh5 interact with the catalytic subunit of the succinate dehydrogenase (SDH) complex, a component of both the electron transport chain and the tricarboxylic acid cycle. Sdh5 is required for SDH-dependent respiration and for Sdh1 flavination (incorporation of the flavin adenine dinucleotide cofactor). Germline loss-of-function mutations in the human SDH5 gene, located on chromosome 11q13.1, segregate with disease in a family with hereditary paraganglioma, a neuroendocrine tumor previously linked to mutations in genes encoding SDH subunits. Thus, a mitochondrial proteomics analysis in yeast has led to the discovery of a human tumor susceptibility gene.
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