Functional Genetics of the Oxidative Phosphorylation System (GENOXPHOS)

Our research activity has focused on the study of mammalian mitochondrial electron transport chain (MtETC) and H+ -ATP synthase, which constitute the oxidative phosphorylation system (OxPhos). For more than 25 years, our research work has provided a scientific contribution of the utmost relevance in the following specific areas:

  • Functional consequences of the genetic variability of the mtDNA, with the most outstanding work being the demonstrate in human and mouse that the population variability of mtDNA conditions the metabolism of the organism, its response to drugs, predisposition to diseases, to healthy aging, and help explain the borderline pathology and functional variability for mtDNA alterations. Together, these contributions highlight the role of mitochondrial ROS in the adaptation of the OxPhos system to the metabolic requirements of the cell.
  • Development of new structural organization models of the electronic mitochondrial transport. Based on the observations and methodology developed by Dr. Schägger, the works of GENOXPHOS group revolutionize the understanding of the structure and function of the mitochondrial respiratory chain, giving rise to the proposal of the "Plasticity Model" to explain the dynamic organization of the mitochondrial electron transport chain. On the one hand, this model, and the work from which it is derived, explain the functional value of associations of respiratory complexes in superstructures, describes the first protein factor genuinely required for the physical interaction between complexes. Demonstrates the dynamic organization of the respiratory chain to optimize the use of different carbon sources and provides the experimental test of the proposed plasticity model. This research allowed to connect mitochondrial dynamics with bioenergetic function. Likewise, in the context of the plasticity model, it has been possible to explain the determinant role of the structural isoforms of the IV complex of the mitochondrial electron transport chain in its homodimerization capacity and in its capacity to interact with other complexes.
  • The role of OxPhos in metabolic adaptation with key advance in the understanding of the processes by which cells optimize and molecularly regulate their metabolic capacity, inducing structural changes in the electronic transport chain. All at once, these adaptations are especially relevant in cardiovascular pathology and the immune system.

The success of Dr. Enríquez's work has consolidated him as an international benchmark in his field. This is illustrated by his active participation in the organization of major conferences in mitochondrial research and pathology (i.e. President of the EUROMIT VIII. 8th European Meeting on Mitochondrial Pathology. Celebrated in Zaragoza (SPAIN) 20-23 June 2011). In addition, Dr. Enriquez is involved actively in the education and mentoring of the new generation of researcher in the field as member of the European ITN (Initial Training Network): Mitochondrial European Educational Training – MEET, and the mentoring of 15 PhD and more than 20 postdoctoral scientists. Finally, Dr. Enriquez is regularly invited speaker in the most prestigious meetings and institutions including Gordon Conferences, A. EBEC, Keystone symposia, FASEB meetings, FEBS meetings, Cold Spring Harbor etc.

Currently, we are particularly interested in the role of the mitochondria in the development and homeostasis of the cardiovascular system and in enhancing its resilience and regenerative potential upon injury. Thus, we aim to understand the relevance of mitochondria and the OXPHOS system in the pathophysiology of the heart, including ischemia-reperfusion, heart failure and its electric activity. We also investigate the relevance of mitochondria on inflammation, obesity, and vascular physiopathology. Finally, we are investigating the contribution of the mitochondrial genetics, and its role as organismal integrator of the metabolism, in allowing healthy aging and their impact.