The ATPase Inhibitory Factor 1 (IF1): A master regulator of energy metabolism and of cell survival

Javier García-Bermúdez, José M. Cuezva

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

93 Scopus citations


In this contribution we summarize most of the findings reported for the molecular and cellular biology of the physiological inhibitor of the mitochondrial H+-ATP synthase, the engine of oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) and gate of cell death. We first describe the structure and major mechanisms and molecules that regulate the activity of the ATP synthase placing the ATPase Inhibitory Factor 1 (IF1) as a major determinant in the regulation of the activity of the ATP synthase and hence of OXPHOS. Next, we summarize the post-transcriptional mechanisms that regulate the expression of IF1 and emphasize, in addition to the regulation afforded by the protonation state of histidine residues, that the activity of IF1 as an inhibitor of the ATP synthase is also regulated by phosphorylation of a serine residue. Phosphorylation of S39 in IF1 by the action of a mitochondrial cAMP-dependent protein kinase A hampers its interaction with the ATP synthase, i.e., only dephosphorylated IF1 interacts with the enzyme. Upon IF1 interaction with the ATP synthase both the synthetic and hydrolytic activities of the engine of OXPHOS are inhibited. These findings are further placed into the physiological context to stress the emerging roles played by IF1 in metabolic reprogramming in cancer, in hypoxia and in cellular differentiation. We review also the implication of IF1 in other cellular situations that involve the malfunctioning of mitochondria. Special emphasis is given to the role of IF1 as driver of the generation of a reactive oxygen species signal that, emanating from mitochondria, is able to reprogram the nucleus of the cell to confer by various signaling pathways a cell-death resistant phenotype against oxidative stress. Overall, our intention is to highlight the urgent need of further investigations in the molecular and cellular biology of IF1 and of its target, the ATP synthase, to unveil new therapeutic strategies in human pathology. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled 'EBEC 2016: 19th European Bioenergetics Conference, Riva del Garda, Italy, July 2-6, 2016', edited by Prof. Paolo Bernardi.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1167-1182
Number of pages16
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta - Bioenergetics
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • ATP synthase
  • ATPase Inhibitory Factor 1
  • Cancer
  • Mitochondria
  • Nuclear reprogramming
  • ROS signaling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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