Head of Department, Full Member of Russian Acad.Sci. and European Academy, Professor of Biochemistry, Head of A.N.Belozersky Institute of Physico-Chemical Biology, Moscow State University. State Prize (1975) and Bach Prize of Acad. Sci. USSR (1972) Awards

Major interests in the Department are focused on the mechanism of energy trans-formation in biological membranes.

V.P.Skulachev, E.A.Liberman and co-workers show that uncouplers of oxidative phosphorylation operate as pro-tonophores. A method of penetrating ions to measure electric potential difference (DY) across intracellular membrane has been put forward and used to discover DY on mem-branes of mitochondria, chloroplasts and bacteria. These works proved to be an im-portant piece of evidence for chemiosmotic hypothesis of energy coupling (P.Mitchell, the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 1978).

It is suggested that Na+ can substitute for H+ as the coupling ion (the sodium cycle alternative for the Mitchellian H+ cycle). It is shown that in some bacteria, the Na+ potential can be generated by terminal span of respira-tory chain to be used to support oxidative phosphorylation and rotation of bacterial fla-gella. This rotation was found to be a result of transmembrane H+ or Na+ transfer.

Laboratory of free oxidation (Dr. E.N.Mokhova and co-workers) is studying the uncoupling effect of free fatty acids (FFA) which operate as the messengers of thermo-regulator effect. The phenomena of thermo-regulation was discovered by V.P.Skulachev and S.P.Maslov on skeletal muscle. FFA pro-tonophoric uncoupling was found to be medi-ated by anion carriers of the inner mitochon-drial membrane, namely the ADP/ ATP and the aspartate/glutamate antiporter.

It has been demonstrated by Dr. D.B.Zorov (Laboratory of structure and func-tion of mitochondria) that extended mito-chondrial structures can operate as electric cables transmitting the energy within the cell. In the inner mitochondrial membrane a chan-nel activity was revealed which is controlled by benzodiazepine receptor.

In the Laboratory of electron transport (Dr. A.A.Konstantinov and co-workers) semi-ubiquinone was identified in mitochondria (in collaboration with Prof. E.K.Ruuge, Faculty of Physics) and its role in mechanism of elec-tron transfer and in oxygen radical generation in the respiratory chain was established. Electrogenic steps of electron and proton transfer by the cytochrome complexes of the respiratory chain were directly followed.

In the Laboratory of membrane struc-ture and function (Dr. L.S.Yaguzhinsky) a high kinetic barrier for the proton transfer through the interface near artificial phospho-lipid membranes has been revealed. Indica-tions were obtained pointing to formation of local pH gradients as a result of operation of mitochondrial respiratory proton pumps.

Recently the Department proved to be involved in studies on reactive oxygen species (ROS), in particularly on mechanisms pre-venting the ROS formation (respiratory pro-tection, mild uncoupling of respiration and phosphorilation, ROS-linked opening of mi-tochondrial pores and apoptosis

Recent Selected Papers

1. Skulachev V.P. Role of uncoupled and non-coupled oxidations in maintenance of safely low levels of oxygen and its one-electron reductants. Quart.Rev.Biophys. (1996) 29, 169-202.

2. Glagolev A.N., Skulachev V.PThe proton pump is a molecular engine of motile bacteria. Nature .(1978) 272, 280-282

3. Baryshev V.A., Glagolev A.N., Skulachev V.P. Sensing of ?m? in phototaxis of Halobacterium halobium. Nature (1981) 292, 338-340

4. Vygodina T.V., Pecoraro C., Mitchell D., Gennis R., Konstantinov A.A. The mechanism of inhibition of electron transfer by aminoacid replacement K362M in proton channel of Rh. sphaeroides cytochrome c oxidase. Biochemistry (1998) 37, .3053-3061.

5. Kinnally K.W., Zorov D.B., Antonenko Y.N., Snyde S.H., McEnery M.W., Tedeschi H Mi-tochondrial benzodiazepine receptor linked to inner membrane ion channels by nanomolar actions of ligands. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA (1993) 90, 1374-1378.