bims-mecosi Biomed News
on Membrane Contact Sites
Issue of 2021‒07‒04
eleven papers selected by
Verena Kohler
Stockholm University


  1. Cell Death Dis. 2021 Jun 28. 12(7): 657
      Subcellular organelles communicate with each other to regulate function and coordinate responses to changing cellular conditions. The physical-functional coupling of the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) with mitochondria allows for the direct transfer of Ca2+ between organelles and is an important avenue for rapidly increasing mitochondrial metabolic activity. As such, increasing ER-mitochondrial coupling can boost the generation of ATP that is needed to restore homeostasis in the face of cellular stress. The mitochondrial unfolded protein response (mtUPR) is activated by the accumulation of unfolded proteins in mitochondria. Retrograde signaling from mitochondria to the nucleus promotes mtUPR transcriptional responses aimed at restoring protein homeostasis. It is currently unknown whether the changes in mitochondrial-ER coupling also play a role during mtUPR stress. We hypothesized that mitochondrial stress favors an expansion of functional contacts between mitochondria and ER, thereby increasing mitochondrial metabolism as part of a protective response. Hela cells were treated with doxycycline, an antibiotic that inhibits the translation of mitochondrial-encoded proteins to create protein disequilibrium. Treatment with doxycycline decreased the abundance of mitochondrial encoded proteins while increasing expression of CHOP, C/EBPβ, ClpP, and mtHsp60, markers of the mtUPR. There was no change in either mitophagic activity or cell viability. Furthermore, ER UPR was not activated, suggesting focused activation of the mtUPR. Within 2 h of doxycycline treatment, there was a significant increase in physical contacts between mitochondria and ER that was distributed throughout the cell, along with an increase in the kinetics of mitochondrial Ca2+ uptake. This was followed by the rise in the rate of oxygen consumption at 4 h, indicating a boost in mitochondrial metabolic activity. In conclusion, an early phase of the response to doxycycline-induced mitochondrial stress is an increase in mitochondrial-ER coupling that potentiates mitochondrial metabolic activity as a means to support subsequent steps in the mtUPR pathway and sustain cellular adaptation.
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1038/s41419-021-03945-9
  2. Brain Pathol. 2021 Jul 01. e13001
      The pathological hallmark of multiple system atrophy (MSA) is fibrillary aggregates of α-synuclein (α-Syn) in the cytoplasm and nucleus of both oligodendrocytes and neurons. In neurons, α-Syn localizes to the cytosolic and membrane compartments, including the synaptic vesicles, mitochondria, and endoplasmic reticulum (ER). α-Syn binds to vesicle-associated membrane protein-binding protein B (VAPB) in the ER membrane. Overexpression of wild-type and familial Parkinson's disease mutant α-Syn perturbs the association between the ER and mitochondria, leading to ER stress and ultimately neurodegeneration. We examined brains from MSA patients (n = 7) and control subjects (n = 5) using immunohistochemistry and immunoelectron microscopy with antibodies against VAPB and phosphorylated α-Syn. In controls, the cytoplasm of neurons and glial cells was positive for VAPB, whereas in MSA lesions VAPB immunoreactivity was decreased. The proportion of VAPB-negative neurons in the pontine nucleus was significantly higher in MSA (13.6%) than in controls (0.6%). The incidence of cytoplasmic inclusions in VAPB-negative neurons was significantly higher (42.2%) than that in VAPB-positive neurons (3.6%); 67.2% of inclusion-bearing oligodendrocytes and 51.1% of inclusion-containing neurons were negative for VAPB. Immunoelectron microscopy revealed that α-Syn and VAPB were localized to granulofilamentous structures in the cytoplasm of oligodendrocytes and neurons. Many vesicular structures labeled with anti-α-Syn were also observed within the granulofilamentous structures in the cytoplasm and nucleus of both oligodendrocytes and neurons. These findings suggest that, in MSA, reduction of VAPB is involved in the disease process and that vesicular structures are associated with inclusion formation.
    Keywords:  electron microscopy; glial cytoplasmic inclusion; multiple system atrophy; vesicle-associated membrane protein-binding protein B; α-synuclein
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1111/bpa.13001
  3. Cells. 2021 Jun 28. pii: 1618. [Epub ahead of print]10(7):
      Membrane trafficking is essential for processing and transport of proteins and lipids and to establish cell compartmentation and tissue organization. Cells respond to their needs and control the quantity and quality of protein secretion accordingly. In this review, we focus on a particular membrane trafficking route from the trans-Golgi network (TGN) to the cell surface: protein kinase D (PKD)-dependent pathway for constitutive secretion mediated by carriers of the TGN to the cell surface (CARTS). Recent findings highlight the importance of lipid signaling by organelle membrane contact sites (MCSs) in this pathway. Finally, we discuss our current understanding of multiple signaling pathways for membrane trafficking regulation mediated by PKD, G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs), growth factors, metabolites, and mechanosensors.
    Keywords:  CARTS; Golgi complex; lipid metabolism; membrane contact sites; membrane trafficking; protein kinase D; protein sorting
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.3390/cells10071618
  4. Cell Calcium. 2021 Jun 12. pii: S0143-4160(21)00088-9. [Epub ahead of print]97 102434
      A mechanism involving endoplasmic reticulum-mitochondria contacts noted in diabetes mellitus may explain the neurodegeneration and amyloidogenesis observed in these patients. Urolithin A, a metabolite found in the gut microbiome, is proposed as a therapeutic strategy for the treatment of the diabetes-related dementia.
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ceca.2021.102434
  5. Traffic. 2021 Jun 29.
      Legionella pneumophila is a facultative intracellular bacterial pathogen, causing the severe form of pneumonia known as Legionnaires' disease. Legionella actively alters host organelle trafficking through the activities of 'effector' proteins secreted via a TypeIVB secretion system, in order to construct the bacteria-laden Legionella-containing vacuole (LCV) and prevent lysosomal degradation. The LCV is created with membrane derived from host ER, secretory vesicles, and phagosomes, although the precise molecular mechanisms that drive its synthesis remain poorly understood. In an effort to characterize the in vivo activity of the LegC7/YlfA SNARE-like effector protein from Legionella in the context of eukaryotic membrane trafficking in yeast, we find that LegC7 interacts with the Emp46p/Emp47p ER-to-Golgi glycoprotein cargo adapter complex, alters ER morphology, and induces aberrant ER:endosome interactions, as measured by visualization of ER cargo degradation, reconstitution of split-GFP proteins, and enhanced oxidation of the ER lumen. LegC7-dependent toxicity, disruption of ER morphology, and ER:endosome fusion events were dependent upon endosomal VPS class C tethering complexes and the endosomal t-SNARE, Pep12p. This work establishes a model in which LegC7 functions to recruit host ER material to the bacterial phagosome during infection by driving ER:endosome contacts, potentially through interaction with host membrane tethering complexes and/or cargo adapters. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
    Keywords:  LegC7; Legionella pneumophila; SNARE proteins; Saccharomyces cerevisiae; VPS class C tethering complexes; cargo adapters; membrane fusion
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1111/tra.12807
  6. Int J Mol Sci. 2021 Jun 08. pii: 6200. [Epub ahead of print]22(12):
      The VPS13 family of proteins have emerged as key players in intracellular lipid transport and human health. Humans have four different VPS13 orthologs, the dysfunction of which leads to different diseases. Yeast has a single VPS13 gene, which encodes a protein that localizes to multiple different membrane contact sites. The yeast vps13Δ mutant is pleiotropic, exhibiting defects in sporulation, protein trafficking, endoplasmic reticulum (ER)-phagy and mitochondrial function. Non-null alleles resulting from missense mutations can be useful reagents for understanding the multiple functions of a gene. The exceptionally large size of Vps13 makes the identification of key residues challenging. As a means to identify critical residues in yeast Vps13, amino acid substitution mutations from VPS13A, B, C and D, associated with human disease, were introduced at the cognate positions of yeast VPS13, some of which created separation-of-function alleles. Phenotypic analyses of these mutants have revealed that the promotion of ER-phagy is a fourth, genetically separable role of VPS13 and provide evidence that co-adaptors at the endosome mediate the activity of VPS13 in vacuolar sorting.
    Keywords:  ER-phagy; Vps13 adaptor; chorea-acanthocytosis; protein trafficking
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms22126200
  7. Cell Rep. 2021 Jun 29. pii: S2211-1247(21)00698-7. [Epub ahead of print]35(13): 109322
      Junctional coupling between endoplasmic reticulum (ER) Ca2+-sensor STIM proteins and plasma membrane (PM) Orai channels mediates Ca2+ signals in most cells. We reveal that PM-tethered, fluorescently tagged C-terminal M4x (fourth transmembrane helix contains a cytoplasmic C-terminal extension) peptides from Orai channels undergo a Leu-specific signature of direct interaction with the STIM1 Orai-activating region (SOAR), exactly mimicking STIM1 binding to gate Orai channels. The 20-amino-acid Orai3-M4x peptide associates avidly with STIM1 within ER-PM junctions, functions to competitively block native Ca2+ signals, and mediates a key modification of STIM-Orai coupling induced by 2-aminoethoxydiphenyl borate. By blocking STIM-Orai coupling, the Orai3-M4x peptide reveals the critical role of Orai channels in driving Ca2+ oscillatory signals and transcriptional control through NFAT. The M4x peptides interact independently with SOAR dimers consistent with unimolecular coupling between Orai subunits and STIM1 dimers. We reveal the critical role of M4x helices in defining the coupling interface between STIM and Orai proteins to mediate store-operated Ca2+ signals.
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.celrep.2021.109322
  8. Nat Cell Biol. 2021 Jun 28.
      Endosome fission is essential for cargo sorting and targeting in the endosomal system. However, whether organelles other than the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) participate in endosome fission through membrane contacts is unknown. Here, we characterize a Golgi-derived vesicle, the SEC14L2 compartment, that plays a unique role in facilitating endosome fission through ternary contacts with endosomes and the ER. Localized to the ER-mediated endosome fission site, the phosphatidylinositol transfer protein SEC14L2 promotes phosphatidylinositol 4-phosphate (PtdIns4P) to phosphatidylinositol 3-phosphate (PtdIns3P) conversion before endosome fission. In the absence of SEC14L2, endosome fission is attenuated and more enlarged endosomes arise due to endosomal accumulation of PtdIns4P and reduction in PtdIns3P. Collectively, our data suggest roles of the Golgi network in ER-associated endosome fission and a mechanism involving ER-endosome contacts in the regulation of endosomal phosphoinositide conversion.
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1038/s41556-021-00704-y
  9. Trends Cell Biol. 2021 Jun 29. pii: S0962-8924(21)00119-7. [Epub ahead of print]
      Seipin is a key protein in the assembly of cytoplasmic lipid droplets (cLDs) and their maintenance at endoplasmic reticulum (ER)-LD junctions; the absence of seipin results in generalized lipodystrophy. How seipin mediates LD dynamics and prevents lipodystrophy are not well understood. New evidence suggests that seipin attracts triglyceride monomers from the ER to sites of droplet formation. By contrast, seipin may not be directly involved in the assembly of nuclear LDs and may actually suppress their formation at a distance. Seipin promotes adipogenesis, but lipodystrophy may also involve postadipogenic effects. We hypothesize that among these are a cycle of runaway lipolysis and lipotoxicity caused by aberrant LDs, resulting in a depletion of fat stores and a failure of adipose and other cells to thrive.
    Keywords:  adipogenesis; fatty acid; lipid droplet; lipodystrophy; seipin
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tcb.2021.06.003
  10. Neurochem Res. 2021 Jul 02.
      Mitochondrial-associated endoplasmic reticulum (ER) membranes (MAMs) regulate calcium (Ca2+) homeostasis via Ca2+ transport-related proteins such as inositol-1,4,5-triphosphate receptor (IP3R). FAM134B-mediated ER-phagy plays an important role in ER homeostasis. However, it remains unknown whether FAM134B-mediated ER-phagy affects mitochondrial Ca2+ homeostasis and cell death through MAMs. In this study, we demonstrated that colocalization degree of FAM134B with LC3 and the LC3-II/LC3-I ratio were elevated in the hippocampal neuronal culture (HNC) model of acquired epilepsy (AE), which indicate an increased level of autophagy. In this model, FAM134B overexpression enhanced ER-phagy, while FAM134B downregulation had the opposite effect. Additionally, FAM134B overexpression significantly reversed the increases in IP3R expression and mitochondrial Ca2+ concentration and the decrease in the ER Ca2+ concentration in this model. FAM134B overexpression also ameliorated the AE-induced ultrastructural damage in neuronal mitochondria, decrease in mitochondrial membrane potential (mMP), cytochrome c (CytC) release and caspase-3 activation, while FAM134B downregulation induced the opposite effects. Altogether, our data indicate that FAM134B-mediated ER-phagy can attenuate AE-induced neuronal apoptosis, possibly by modulating the IP3R in MAMs to alter Ca2+ exchange between ER and mitochondria and thus inhibit mitochondrial structural damage, a decrease in mMP, release of CytC and mitochondrial apoptosis.
    Keywords:  ER-phagy; Epilepsy; FAM134B; MAMs; Mitochondrial calcium homeostasis
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1007/s11064-021-03389-9