The proton motive force (PMF) is bio-energetically important for various cellular reactions to occur. We developed PMF-photogenerating mitochondria in cultured mammalian cells. An archaebacterial rhodopsin, delta-rhodopsin, which is a light-driven proton pump derived from Haloterrigena turkmenica, was expressed in the mitochondria of CHO-K1 cells. The constructed stable CHO-K1 cell lines showed suppression of cell death induced by rotenone, a pesticide that inhibits mitochondrial complex I activity involved in PMF generation through the electron transport chain. Delta-rhodopsin was also introduced into the mitochondria of human neuroblastoma SH-SY5Y cells. The constructed stable SH-SY5Y cell lines showed suppression of dopaminergic neuronal cell death induced by 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP), an inducer of Parkinson's disease models, which acts through inhibition of complex I activity. These results suggest that the light-activated proton pump functioned as a PMF generator in the mitochondria of mammalian cells, and suppressed cell death induced by inhibition of respiratory PMF generation.
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