Natural Product Screening Reveals Naphthoquinone Complex I Bypass Factors.
Deficiency of mitochondrial complex I is encountered in both rare and common diseases, but we have limited therapeutic options to treat this lesion to the oxidative phosphorylation system (OXPHOS). Idebenone and menadione are redox-active molecules capable of rescuing OXPHOS activity by engaging complex I-independent pathways of entry, often referred to as "complex I bypass." In the present study, we created a cellular model of complex I deficiency by using CRISPR genome editing to knock out Ndufa9 in mouse myoblasts, and utilized this cell line to develop a high-throughput screening platform for novel complex I bypass factors. We screened a library of ~40,000 natural product extracts and performed bioassay-guided fractionation on a subset of the top scoring hits. We isolated four plant-derived 1,4-naphthoquinone complex I bypass factors with structural similarity to menadione: chimaphilin and 3-chloro-chimaphilin from Chimaphila umbellata and dehydro-α-lapachone and dehydroiso-α-lapachone from Stereospermum euphoroides. We also tested a small number of structurally related naphthoquinones from commercial sources and identified two additional compounds with complex I bypass activity: 2-methoxy-1,4-naphthoquinone and 2-methoxy-3-methyl-1,4,-naphthoquinone. The six novel complex I bypass factors reported here expand this class of molecules and will be useful as tool compounds for investigating complex I disease biology.