bims-mecosi Biomed News
on Membrane Contact Sites
Issue of 2021‒06‒20
five papers selected by
Verena Kohler
Stockholm University


  1. Mol Biol Cell. 2021 Jun 16. mbcE21030097
      Membrane contact sites (MCSs) between the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and mitochondria are emerging as critical hubs for diverse cellular events, and alterations in the extent of these contacts are linked to neurodegenerative diseases. However, the mechanisms that control ER-mitochondrial interactions are so far elusive. Here, we demonstrate a key role of vacuolar protein sorting-associated protein 13D (VPS13D) in the negative regulation of ER-mitochondrial MCSs. VPS13D suppression results in extensive ER-mitochondrial tethering, a phenotype that can be substantially rescued by suppression of the tethering proteins VAPB and PTPIP51. VPS13D interacts with valosin-containing protein (VCP/p97) to control the level of ER-resident VAPB at contacts. VPS13D is required for the stability of p97. Functionally, VPS13D suppression leads to severe defects in the mitochondrial morphology, mitochondrial cellular distribution and mitochondrial DNA synthesis. Together our results suggest that VPS13D negatively regulates the ER-mitochondrial MCSs partially through its interactions with VCP/p97. [Media: see text].
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1091/mbc.E21-03-0097
  2. mSphere. 2021 Jun 16. e0032721
      Mitochondrial cristae are polymorphic invaginations of the inner membrane that are the fabric of cellular respiration. Both the mitochondrial contact site and cristae organization system (MICOS) and the F1FO-ATP synthase are vital for sculpting cristae by opposing membrane-bending forces. While MICOS promotes negative curvature at crista junctions, dimeric F1FO-ATP synthase is crucial for positive curvature at crista rims. Crosstalk between these two complexes has been observed in baker's yeast, the model organism of the Opisthokonta supergroup. Here, we report that this property is conserved in Trypanosoma brucei, a member of the Discoba clade that separated from the Opisthokonta ∼2 billion years ago. Specifically, one of the paralogs of the core MICOS subunit Mic10 interacts with dimeric F1FO-ATP synthase, whereas the other core Mic60 subunit has a counteractive effect on F1FO-ATP synthase oligomerization. This is evocative of the nature of MICOS-F1FO-ATP synthase crosstalk in yeast, which is remarkable given the diversification that these two complexes have undergone during almost 2 eons of independent evolution. Furthermore, we identified a highly diverged, putative homolog of subunit e, which is essential for the stability of F1FO-ATP synthase dimers in yeast. Just like subunit e, it is preferentially associated with dimers and interacts with Mic10, and its silencing results in severe defects to cristae and the disintegration of F1FO-ATP synthase dimers. Our findings indicate that crosstalk between MICOS and dimeric F1FO-ATP synthase is a fundamental property impacting crista shape throughout eukaryotes. IMPORTANCE Mitochondria have undergone profound diversification in separate lineages that have radiated since the last common ancestor of eukaryotes some eons ago. Most eukaryotes are unicellular protists, including etiological agents of infectious diseases, like Trypanosoma brucei. Thus, the study of a broad range of protists can reveal fundamental features shared by all eukaryotes and lineage-specific innovations. Here, we report that two different protein complexes, MICOS and F1FO-ATP synthase, known to affect mitochondrial architecture, undergo crosstalk in T. brucei, just as in baker's yeast. This is remarkable considering that these complexes have otherwise undergone many changes during their almost 2 billion years of independent evolution. Thus, this crosstalk is a fundamental property needed to maintain proper mitochondrial structure even if the constituent players considerably diverged.
    Keywords:  ATP synthase; MICOS; Trypanosoma; evolution; mitochondria
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1128/mSphere.00327-21
  3. Contact (Thousand Oaks). 2021 Jan-Dec;4:4 25152564211016608
      Cellular adaptation to stress and metabolic cues requires a coordinated response of different intracellular compartments, separated by semipermeable membranes. One way to facilitate interorganellar communication is via membrane contact sites, physical bridges between opposing organellar membranes formed by an array of tethering machineries. These contact sites are highly dynamic and establish an interconnected organellar network able to quickly respond to external and internal stress by changing size, abundance and molecular architecture. Here, we discuss recent work on nucleus-vacuole junctions, connecting yeast vacuoles with the nucleus. Appearing as small, single foci in mitotic cells, these contacts expand into one enlarged patch upon nutrient exhaustion and entry into quiescence or can be shaped into multiple large foci essential to sustain viability upon proteostatic stress at the nuclear envelope. We highlight the remarkable plasticity and rapid remodelling of these contact sites upon metabolic or proteostatic stress and their emerging importance for cellular fitness.
    Keywords:  NVJ; Snd3; glucose; metabolism; quiescence; stress response
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1177/25152564211016608
  4. FASEB J. 2021 Jul;35(7): e21688
      The mitochondria-associated membrane (MAM) is a functional subdomain of the endoplasmic reticulum membrane that tethers to the mitochondrial outer membrane and is essential for cellular homeostasis. A defect in MAM is involved in various neurological diseases, including amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Recently, we and others reported that MAM was disrupted in the models expressing several ALS-linked genes, including SOD1, SIGMAR1, VAPB, TARDBP, and FUS, suggesting that MAM disruption is deeply involved in the pathomechanism of ALS. However, it is still uncertain whether MAM disruption is a common pathology in ALS, mainly due to the absence of a simple, quantitative tool for monitoring the status of MAM. In this study, to examine the effects of various ALS-causative genes on MAM, we created the following two novel MAM reporters: MAMtracker-Luc and MAMtracker-Green. The MAMtrackers could detect MAM disruption caused by suppression of SIGMAR1 or the overexpression of ALS-linked mutant SOD1 in living cells. Moreover, the MAMtrackers have an advantage in their ability to monitor reversible changes in the MAM status induced by nutritional conditions. We used the MAMtrackers with an expression plasmid library of ALS-causative genes and noted that 76% (16/21) of the genes altered MAM integrity. Our results suggest that MAM disruption is a common pathological feature in ALS. Furthermore, we anticipate our MAMtrackers, which are suitable for high-throughput assays, to be valuable tools to understand MAM dynamics.
    Keywords:  ER-mitochondria contact; amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS); mitochondria-associated membrane (MAM); organelle; sigma-1 receptor (Sig1R)
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1096/fj.202100137R
  5. Autoimmun Rev. 2021 Jun 09. pii: S1568-9972(21)00139-7. [Epub ahead of print]20(8): 102867
      Relevant reviews highlight the association between dysfunctional mitochondria and inflammation, but few studies address the contribution of mitochondria and mitochondria-endoplasmic reticulum (ER) contact sites (MERCs) to cellular homeostasis and inflammatory signaling. The present review outlines the important role of mitochondria in cellular homeostasis and how dysfunctional mitochondrion can release and misplace mitochondrial components (cardiolipin, mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), and mitochondrial formylated peptides) through multiple mechanisms. These components can act as damage-associated molecular patterns (DAMPs) and induce an inflammatory response via pattern recognition receptors (PRRs). Accumulation of damaged ROS-generating mitochondria, accompanied by the release of mitochondrial DAMPs, can activate PRRs such as the NLRP3 inflammasome, TLR9, cGAS/STING, and ZBP1. This process would explain the chronic inflammation that is observed in autoimmune diseases such as systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), type I diabetes (T1D), and Sjögren's syndrome. This review also provides a comprehensive overview of the importance of MERCs to mitochondrial function and morphology, cellular homeostasis, and the inflammatory response. MERCs play an important role in calcium homeostasis by mediating the transfer of calcium from the ER to the mitochondria and thereby facilitating the production of ATP. They also contribute to the synthesis and transfer of phospholipids, protein folding in the ER, mitochondrial fission, mitochondrial fusion, initiation of autophagosome formation, regulation of cell death/survival signaling, and regulation of immune responses. Therefore, alterations within MERCs could increase inflammatory signaling, modulate ER stress responses, cell homeostasis, and ultimately, the cell fate. This study shows severe ultrastructural alterations of mitochondria in salivary gland cells from Sjögren's syndrome patients for the first time, which could trigger alterations in cellular bioenergetics. This finding could explain symptoms such as fatigue and malfunction of the salivary glands in Sjögren's syndrome patients, which would contribute to the chronic inflammatory pathology of the disease. However, this is only a first step in solving this complex puzzle, and several other important factors such as changes in mitochondrial morphology, functionality, and their important contacts with other organelles require further in-depth study. Future work should focus on detecting the key milestones that are related to inflammation in patients with autoimmune diseases, such as Sjögren´s syndrome.
    Keywords:  DAMPs (mitochondrial damage-associated molecular patterns); Inflammation (chronic inflammation); MERCs (mitochondria-endoplasmic reticulum contact sites); Mitochondria (dysfunctional mitochondria); PRRs (pattern recognition receptors); ROS (reactive oxygen species)
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.autrev.2021.102867