A structure and function relationship study to identify the impact of the R721G mutation in the human mitochondrial lon protease

Zhou Sha, Monica M. Montano, Kristy Rochon, Jason A. Mears, Daniel Deredge, Patrick Wintrode, Luke Szweda, Natalie Mikita, Irene Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Lon is an ATP-dependent protease belonging to the “ATPase associated with diverse cellular activities” (AAA+) protein family. In humans, Lon is translated as a precursor and imported into the mitochondria matrix through deletion of the first 114 amino acid residues. In mice, embryonic knockout of lon is lethal. In humans, some dysfunctional lon mutations are tolerated but they cause a developmental disorder known as the CODAS syndrome. To gain a better understanding on the enzymology of human mitochondrial Lon, this study compares the structure-function relationship of the WT versus one of the CODAS mutants R721G to identify the mechanistic features in Lon catalysis that are affected. To this end, steady-state kinetics were used to quantify the difference in ATPase and ATP-dependent peptidase activities between WT and R721G. The Km values for the intrinsic as well as protein-stimulated ATPase were increased whereas the kcat value for ATP-dependent peptidase activity was decreased in the R721G mutant. The mutant protease also displayed substrate inhibition kinetics. In vitro studies revealed that R721G did not degrade the endogenous mitochondrial Lon substrate pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase isoform 4 (PDK4) effectively like WT hLon. Furthermore, the pyruvate dehydrogenase complex (PDH) protected PDK4 from hLon degradation. Using hydrogen deuterium exchange/mass spectrometry and negative stain electron microscopy, structural perturbations associated with the R721G mutation were identified. To validate the in vitro findings under a physiologically relevant condition, the intrinsic stability as well as proteolytic activity of WT versus R721G mutant towards PDK 4 were compared in cell lysates prepared from immortalized B lymphocytes expressing the respective protease. The lifetime of PDK4 is longer in the mutant cells, but the lifetime of Lon protein is longer in the WT cells, which corroborate the in vitro structure-functional relationship findings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number108983
JournalArchives of Biochemistry and Biophysics
StatePublished - Oct 15 2021


  • Hydrogen-deuterium exchange
  • Lon protease
  • Nucleotide induced conformational changes
  • Steady-state kinetics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology


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