The Ndi1 enzyme of Saccharomyces cerevisiae is a single subunit rotenone-insensitive NADH-quinone oxidoreductase that is located on the matrix side of the inner mitochondrial membrane. We have shown previously that the NDI1 gene can be functionally expressed in Chinese hamster cells (Seo, B. B., Kitajima-Ihara, T., Chan, E. K., Scheffler, I. E., Matsuno-Yagi, A., and Yagi, T. (1998) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U. S. A. 95, 9167-9171) and human embryonal kidney 293 (HEK 293) cells (Seo, B. B., Matsuno-Yagi, A., and Yagi, T. (1999) Biochim. Biochem. Acta 1412, 56-65) and that the Ndi1 protein is capable of compensating respiratory deficiencies caused by defects in the host NADH-quinone oxidoreductase (complex I). To extend the potential use of this enzyme to repair complex I deficiencies in vivo, we constructed a recombinant adeno-associated virus vector carrying the NDI1 gene (rAAV-NDI1). With rAAV-NDI1 as the gene delivery method, we were able to achieve high transduction efficiencies (nearly 100%) even in 143B cells that are difficult to transfect by lipofection or calcium phosphate precipitation methods. The NDI1 gene was successfully introduced into non-proliferating human cells using rAAV-NDI1. The expressed Ndi1 protein was shown to be functionally active just as seen for proliferating cells. Furthermore, when cells were cultured under the conditions where energy has to be provided by respiration, the NDI1-transduced cells were able to grow even in the presence of added complex I inhibitor such as rotenone and 1-methyl-4-phenylpyridinium ion. In contrast, control cells that did not receive the NDI1 gene failed to survive as anticipated. The Ndi1 protein has a great potential as a molecular remedy for complex I defects, and it is highly likely that the same strategy can be extended to correction of other mitochondrial disorders.
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