Separation of intact pyruvate dehydrogenase complex using blue native agarose gel electrophoresis

Nadine S. Henderson, L. G J Nijtmans, J. Gordon Lindsay, Eeleonora Lamantea, Massimo Zeviani, Ian J. Holt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We show that the blue native gel polyacrylamide electrophoresis system (BN-PAGE) can be applied to pyruvate dehydrogenase complex (PDC). BN-PAGE has been used extensively to study the multisubunit enzymes of oxidative phosphorylation, as nonde-naturing separation in the first dimension maintains holoenzyme integrity. However, the standard protocol was inappropriate for PDC as, at 10 MDa, it is approximately ten times larger than the largest respiratory chain enzyme complex. Therefore, agarose was substituted for polyacrylamide. Moreover, a substantial decrease in salt concentration was necessary to prevent dissociation of PDC. As with standard BN-PAGE, immunoblots of second-dimensional sodium dodecyl sulfate-PAGE (SDS-PAGE) provided more detailed information on specific subunits and subcomplexes. The method was applied to human heart mitochondrial fragments, control cultured human cells, π(o) cells that lack mitochondrial DNA, and two cell lines derived from patients with PDC deficiency. The PDC deficient cell lines showed a clear correlation between amount of PDC holoenzyme and disease severity. In cells lacking mitochondrial DNA, synthesis and assembly of all PDC subunits (all nuclearly encoded) appeared normal, suggesting that respiratory function has no regulatory role in PDC biogenesis. Blue native agarose gel electrophoresis coupled with standard second-dimensional SDS-PAGE provides a new tool to be used in conjunction with biochemical assays and immunoblots of one-dimensional SDS-PAGE to further elucidate the nature of PDC in normal and disease states. Furthermore, other cellular protein complexes of 1 MDa or more can be analysed by this method.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2925-2931
Number of pages7
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - 2000


  • Blue native gel electrophoresis
  • Pyruvate dehydrogenase complex

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Biochemistry


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