MT-ND5 is located in mitochondrial DNA from base pair 12,337 to 14,148. The MT-ND5 gene produces a 67 kDa protein composed of 603 amino acids. MT-ND5 is one of seven mitochondrially-encoded subunits of the enzyme NADH dehydrogenase (ubiquinone). Also known as Complex I, it is the largest of the respiratory complexes. The structure is L-shaped with a long, hydrophobictransmembrane domain and a hydrophilic domain for the peripheral arm that includes all the known redox centres and the NADH binding site. MT-ND5 and the rest of the mitochondrially encoded subunits are the most hydrophobic of the subunits of Complex I and form the core of the transmembrane region.
MT-ND5 is a subunit of the respiratory chain Complex I that is believed to belong to the minimal assembly of core proteins required to catalyze NADH dehydrogenation and electron transfer to ubiquinone (coenzyme Q10). Initially, NADH binds to Complex I and transfers two electrons to the isoalloxazine ring of the flavin mononucleotide (FMN) prosthetic arm to form FMNH2. The electrons are transferred through a series of iron-sulfur (Fe-S) clusters in the prosthetic arm and finally to coenzyme Q10 (CoQ), which is reduced to ubiquinol (CoQH2). The flow of electrons changes the redox state of the protein, resulting in a conformational change and pK shift of the ionizable side chain, which pumps four hydrogen ions out of the mitochondrial matrix.