Cardiolipin stabilizes respiratory chain supercomplexes.
ABSTRACT Cardiolipin stabilized supercomplexes of Saccharomyces cerevisiae respiratory chain complexes III and IV (ubiquinol:cytochrome c oxidoreductase and cytochrome c oxidase, respectively), but was not essential for their formation in the inner mitochondrial membrane because they were found also in a cardiolipin-deficient strain. Reconstitution with cardiolipin largely restored wild-type stability. The putative interface of complexes III and IV comprises transmembrane helices of cytochromes b and c1 and tightly bound cardiolipin. Subunits Rip1p, Qcr6p, Qcr9p, Qcr10p, Cox8p, Cox12p, and Cox13p and cytochrome c were not essential for the assembly of supercomplexes; and in the absence of Qcr6p, the formation of supercomplexes was even promoted. An additional marked effect of cardiolipin concerns cytochrome c oxidase. We show that a cardiolipin-deficient strain harbored almost inactive resting cytochrome c oxidase in the membrane. Transition to the fully active pulsed state occurred on a minute time scale.