Nucleoside analog reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs) are known to directly inhibit mitochondrial complex I activity as well as various mitochondrial kinases. Recent observations that complex I activity and superoxide production are modulated through cAMP-dependent phosphorylation suggests a mechanism through which NRTIs may affect mitochondrial respiration via kinase-dependent protein phosphorylation. In the current study, we examine the potential for NRTIs to inhibit the cAMP-dependent phosphorylation of complex I and the associated NADH:CoQ oxidoreductase activities and rates of superoxide production using HepG2 cells. Phosphoprotein staining of immunocaptured complex I revealed that 3′-azido-3′-deoxythymidine (AZT; 10 and 50 μM), AZT monophosphate (150 μM), and 2′,3′-dideoxycytidine (ddC; 1 μM) prevented the phosphorylation of the NDUFB11 subunit of complex I. This was associated with a decrease in complex I activity with AZT and AZT monophosphate only. In the presence of succinate, superoxide production was increased with 2′,3′-dideoxyinosine (ddI; 10 μM) and ddC (1 μM). In the presence of succinate + cAMP, AZT showed an inverse dose-dependent effect on superoxide production. None of the NRTIs examined inhibit PKA activity suggesting that the observed effects are due to a direct interaction with complex I. These data demonstrate a direct effect of NRTIs on cAMP-dependent regulation of mitochondrial bioenergetics independent of DNA polymerase-γ activity; in the case of AZT, these observations may provide a mechanism for the observed long-term toxicity with this drug.
- Complex I
- Protein kinase A