Based on the discovery of coenzyme Q (CoQ) as an obligatory cofactor for H(+) transport by uncoupling protein 1 (UCP1) [Echtay, K. S., Winkler, E. & Klingenberg, M. (2000) Nature (London) 408, 609-613] we show here that UCP2 and UCP3 are also highly active H(+) transporters and require CoQ and fatty acid for H(+) transport, which is inhibited by low concentrations of nucleotides. CoQ is proposed to facilitate injection of H(+) from fatty acid into UCP. Human UCP2 and 3 expressed in Escherichia coli inclusion bodies are solubilized, and by exchange of sarcosyl against digitonin, nucleotide binding as measured with 2'-O-[5-(dimethylamino)naphthalene-1-sulfonyl]-GTP can be restored. After reconstitution into vesicles, Cl(-) but no H(+) are transported. The addition of CoQ initiates H(+) transport in conjunction with fatty acids. This increase is fully sensitive to nucleotides. The rates are as high as with reconstituted UCP1 from mitochondria. Maximum activity is at a molar ratio of 1:300 of CoQ:phospholipid. In UCP2 as in UCP1, ATP is a stronger inhibitor than ADP, but in UCP3 ADP inhibits more strongly than ATP. Thus UCP2 and UCP3 are regulated differently by nucleotides, in line with their different physiological contexts. These results confirm the regulation of UCP2 and UCP3 by the same factors CoQ, fatty acids, and nucleotides as UCP1. They supersede reports that UCP2 and UCP3 may not be H(+) transporters.
Echtay KS, Winkler E, Frischmuth K, Klingenberg M. Uncoupling proteins 2 and 3 are highly active H(+) transporters and highly nucleotide sensitive when activated by coenzyme Q (ubiquinone). Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2001 February Institute for Physiological Chemistry, University of Munich, Schillerstrasse 44, D-80336 Munich, Germany.