Cork-in-bottle mechanism of inhibitor binding to mammalian complex I
Chung I., Serreli R., Cross JB., Di Francesco ME., Marszalek JR., Hirst J.
Mitochondrial complex I (NADH:ubiquinone oxidoreductase), a major contributor of free energy for oxidative phosphorylation, is increasingly recognized as a promising drug target for ischemia-reperfusion injury, metabolic disorders, and various cancers. Several pharmacologically relevant but structurally unrelated small molecules have been identified as specific complex I inhibitors, but their modes of action remain unclear. Here, we present a 3.0-Å resolution cryo-electron microscopy structure of mammalian complex I inhibited by a derivative of IACS-010759, which is currently in clinical development against cancers reliant on oxidative phosphorylation, revealing its unique cork-in-bottle mechanism of inhibition. We combine structural and kinetic analyses to deconvolute cross-species differences in inhibition and identify the structural motif of a "chain"of aromatic rings as a characteristic that promotes inhibition. Our findings provide insights into the importance of π-stacking residues for inhibitor binding in the long substrate-binding channel in complex I and a guide for future biorational drug design.