bims-mecosi Biomed News
on Membrane contact sites
Issue of 2021‒08‒08
ten papers selected by
Verena Kohler
Stockholm University


  1. Biochim Biophys Acta Mol Cell Biol Lipids. 2021 Aug 02. pii: S1388-1981(21)00148-7. [Epub ahead of print] 159020
      Membrane contact sites (MCS) are regions of close apposition between membrane-bound organelles. Proteins that occupy MCS display various domain organization. Among them, lipid transfer proteins (LTPs) frequently contain both structured domains as well as regions of intrinsic disorder. In this review, we discuss the various roles of intrinsically disordered protein regions (IDPRs) in LTPs as well as in other proteins that are associated with organelle contact sites. We distinguish the following functions: (i) to act as flexible tethers between two membranes; (ii) to act as entropic barriers to prevent protein crowding and regulate membrane tethering geometry; (iii) to define the action range of catalytic domains. These functions are added to other functions of IDPRs in membrane environments, such as mediating protein-protein and protein-membrane interactions. We suggest that the overall efficiency and fidelity of contact sites might require fine coordination between all these IDPR activities.
    Keywords:  OSBP; VAP; intrinsic disorder; intrinsically disordered protein; lateral diffusion; lipid transport; membrane contact site; membrane tethering
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bbalip.2021.159020
  2. Theranostics. 2021 ;11(16): 7767-7778
      Background: Lipid droplets (LDs) establish a considerable number of contact sites with mitochondria to enable energy transfer and communication. In this study, we developed a fluorescent biosensor to image LD-mitochondria interactions at the nanoscale and further explored the function of LD-mediated matrix transmission in processes involving multi-organelle interactions. Methods: A fluorescent probe called C-Py (C21H19N3O2, 7-(diethylamino) coumarin-3-vinyl-4-pyridine acetonitrile) was designed and synthesized. Colocalization of C-Py and the commercial LD stain Nile Red was analyzed in HeLa cells. The fluorescence stability and signal to background ratio of C-Py under structured illumination microscopy (SIM) were compared to those of the commercial probe BODIPY493/503. The cytotoxicity of C-Py was assessed using CCK-8 assays. The uptake pattern of C-Py in HeLa cells was then observed under various temperatures, metabolic levels, and endocytosis levels. Contact sites between LDs and various organelles, such as mitochondria, nuclei, and cell membrane, were imaged and quantitated using SIM. Physical changes to the contact sites between LDs and mitochondria were monitored after lipopolysaccharide induction. Results: A LD-targeted fluorescent biosensor, C-Py, with good specificity, low background signal, excellent photostability, low cytotoxicity, and high cellular permeability was developed for tracking LD contact sites with multiple organelles using SIM. Using C-Py, the subcellular distribution and dynamic processes of LDs in living cells were observed under SIM. The formation of contact sites between LDs and multiple organelles was visualized at a resolution below ~200 nm. The number of LD-mitochondria contact sites formed was decreased by lipopolysaccharide treatment inducing an inflammatory environment. Conclusions: C-Py provides strategies for the design of ultra-highly selective biosensors and a new tool for investigating the role and regulation of LDs in living cells at the nanoscale.
    Keywords:  contact sites; extended-resolution imaging; lipid droplets; mitochondria
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.7150/thno.59848
  3. Cells. 2021 Jul 15. pii: 1789. [Epub ahead of print]10(7):
      Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a devastating neurodegenerative disease for which there is currently no cure. Progress in the characterization of other neurodegenerative mechanisms has shifted the spotlight onto an intracellular structure called mitochondria-endoplasmic reticulum (ER) contacts (MERCs) whose ER portion can be biochemically isolated as mitochondria-associated membranes (MAMs). Within the central nervous system (CNS), these structures control the metabolic output of mitochondria and keep sources of oxidative stress in check via autophagy. The most relevant MERC controllers in the ALS pathogenesis are vesicle-associated membrane protein-associated protein B (VAPB), a mitochondria-ER tether, and the ubiquitin-specific chaperone valosin containing protein (VCP). These two systems cooperate to maintain mitochondrial energy output and prevent oxidative stress. In ALS, mutant VAPB and VCP take a central position in the pathology through MERC dysfunction that ultimately alters or compromises mitochondrial bioenergetics. Intriguingly, both proteins are targets themselves of other ALS mutant proteins, including C9orf72, FUS, or TDP-43. Thus, a new picture emerges, where different triggers cause MERC dysfunction in ALS, subsequently leading to well-known pathological changes including endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress, inflammation, and motor neuron death.
    Keywords:  amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS); mitochondria-associated membranes (MAMs); mitochondria-endoplasmic reticulum contacts (MERCs)
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.3390/cells10071789
  4. Mol Cell. 2021 Jul 27. pii: S1097-2765(21)00583-9. [Epub ahead of print]
      The emerging role of mitochondria as signaling organelles raises the question of whether individual mitochondria can initiate heterotypic communication with neighboring organelles. Using fluorescent probes targeted to the endoplasmic-reticulum-mitochondrial interface, we demonstrate that single mitochondria generate oxidative bursts, rapid redox oscillations, confined to the nanoscale environment of the interorganellar contact sites. Using probes fused to inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate receptors (IP3Rs), we show that Ca2+ channels directly sense oxidative bursts and respond with Ca2+ transients adjacent to active mitochondria. Application of specific mitochondrial stressors or apoptotic stimuli dramatically increases the frequency and amplitude of the oxidative bursts by enhancing transient permeability transition pore openings. Conversely, blocking interface Ca2+ transport via elimination of IP3Rs or mitochondrial calcium uniporter channels suppresses ER-mitochondrial Ca2+ feedback and cell death. Thus, single mitochondria initiate local retrograde signaling by miniature oxidative bursts and, upon metabolic or apoptotic stress, may also amplify signals to the rest of the cell.
    Keywords:  Ca2+ microdomain; Inositol-1,4,5-trisphosphate receptor; Mitochondrial retrograde signaling; Organelle contacts; Redox nanodomain
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.molcel.2021.07.014
  5. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2021 ;2021 2424509
      Atherosclerosis is a chronic lipid-driven inflammatory disease that results in the formation of lipid-rich and immune cell-rich plaques in the arterial wall, which has high morbidity and mortality in the world. The mechanism of atherosclerosis is still unclear now. Potential hypotheses involved in atherosclerosis are chronic inflammation theory, lipid percolation theory, mononuclear-macrophage theory, endothelial cell (EC) injury theory, and smooth muscle cell (SMC) mutation theory. Changes of phospholipids, glucose, critical proteins, etc. on mitochondria-associated endoplasmic reticulum membrane (MAM) can cause the progress of atherosclerosis. This review describes the structural and functional interaction between mitochondria and endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and explains the role of critical molecules in the structure of MAM during atherosclerosis.
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1155/2021/2424509
  6. Cells. 2021 Jul 14. pii: 1780. [Epub ahead of print]10(7):
      Membrane contact sites (MCS) are sites of close apposition of two organelles that help in lipid transport and synthesis, calcium homeostasis and several other biological processes. The VAMP-associated proteins (VAPs) VAPA, VAPB, MOSPD2 and the recently described MOSPD1 and MOSPD3 are tether proteins of MCSs that are mainly found at the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). VAPs interact with various proteins with a motif called FFAT (two phenylalanines in an acidic tract), recruiting the associated organelle to the ER. In addition to the conventional FFAT motif, the recently described FFNT (two phenylalanines in a neutral tract) and phospho-FFAT motifs contribute to the interaction with VAPs. In this review, we summarize and compare the recent interactome studies described for VAPs, including in silico and proximity labeling methods. Collectively, the interaction repertoire of VAPs is very diverse and highlights the complexity of interactions mediated by the different FFAT motifs to the VAPs.
    Keywords:  FFAT; MOSPD1; MOSPD2; MOSPD3; VAPA; VAPB; interactome
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.3390/cells10071780
  7. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2021 ;2021 4578809
      Abnormal function of suborganelles such as mitochondria and endoplasmic reticulum often leads to abnormal function of cardiomyocytes or vascular endothelial cells and cardiovascular disease (CVD). Mitochondria-associated membrane (MAM) is involved in several important cellular functions. Increasing evidence shows that MAM is involved in the pathogenesis of CVD. MAM mediates multiple cellular processes, including calcium homeostasis regulation, lipid metabolism, unfolded protein response, ROS, mitochondrial dynamics, autophagy, apoptosis, and inflammation, which are key risk factors for CVD. In this review, we discuss the structure of MAM and MAM-associated proteins, their role in CVD progression, and the potential use of MAM as the therapeutic targets for CVD treatment.
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1155/2021/4578809
  8. Biochim Biophys Acta Mol Cell Biol Lipids. 2021 Jul 30. pii: S1388-1981(21)00149-9. [Epub ahead of print]1866(11): 159021
      Lipid bilayers function as boundaries that enclose their content from the surrounding media, and the composition of different membrane types is accurately and dynamically tailored so that they can perform their function. To achieve this balance, lipid biosynthetic machinery and lipid trafficking events are intertwined into an elegant network. In this review, we focus on the intracellular movement of sphingolipids mediated by sphingolipid transfer proteins. Additionally, we will focus on the best characterized and understood mammalian sphingolipid transfer proteins and provide an overview of how they are hypothesized to function. Some are already well understood, while others remain enigmatic. A few are actual lipid transfer proteins, moving lipids from membrane to membrane, while others may have more of a sensor role, possibly reacting to changes in the concentrations of their ligands. Considering the substrates available for cytosolic sphingolipid transfer proteins, one open question that is discussed is whether galactosylceramide is a target. Another question is the exact mechanics by which sphingolipid transfer proteins are targeted to different organelles, such as how four phosphate adapter protein-2, FAPP2 is targeted to the endoplasmic reticulum. The aim of this review is to discuss what is known within the field today and to provide a basic understanding of how these proteins may work.
    Keywords:  Ceramide; Glycolipids; Lipid transfer protein; Membrane contact sites
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bbalip.2021.159021
  9. Int J Mol Sci. 2021 Jul 29. pii: 8144. [Epub ahead of print]22(15):
      Although once perceived as inert structures that merely serve for lipid storage, lipid droplets (LDs) have proven to be the dynamic organelles that hold many cellular functions. The LDs' basic structure of a hydrophobic core consisting of neutral lipids and enclosed in a phospholipid monolayer allows for quick lipid accessibility for intracellular energy and membrane production. Whereas formed at the peripheral and perinuclear endoplasmic reticulum, LDs are degraded either in the cytosol by lipolysis or in the vacuoles/lysosomes by autophagy. Autophagy is a regulated breakdown of dysfunctional, damaged, or surplus cellular components. The selective autophagy of LDs is called lipophagy. Here, we review LDs and their degradation by lipophagy in yeast, which proceeds via the micrometer-scale raft-like lipid domains in the vacuolar membrane. These vacuolar microdomains form during nutrient deprivation and facilitate internalization of LDs via the vacuolar membrane invagination and scission. The resultant intra-vacuolar autophagic bodies with LDs inside are broken down by vacuolar lipases and proteases. This type of lipophagy is called microlipophagy as it resembles microautophagy, the type of autophagy when substrates are sequestered right at the surface of a lytic compartment. Yeast microlipophagy via the raft-like vacuolar microdomains is a great model system to study the role of lipid domains in microautophagic pathways.
    Keywords:  autophagy; lipid droplets; lipid rafts; lipophagy; microautophagy; microlipophagy; organelle homeostasis; vacuolar microdomains; vacuole; yeast
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms22158144
  10. Cells. 2021 Jul 09. pii: 1737. [Epub ahead of print]10(7):
      The voltage-dependent anion channel (VDAC) is a β-barrel membrane protein located in the outer mitochondrial membrane (OMM). VDAC has two conductance states: an open anion selective state, and a closed and slightly cation-selective state. VDAC conductance states play major roles in regulating permeability of ATP/ADP, regulation of calcium homeostasis, calcium flux within ER-mitochondria contact sites, and apoptotic signaling events. Three reported structures of VDAC provide information on the VDAC open state via X-ray crystallography and nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR). Together, these structures provide insight on how VDAC aids metabolite transport. The interaction partners of VDAC, together with the permeability of the pore, affect the molecular pathology of diseases including Parkinson's disease (PD), Friedreich's ataxia (FA), lupus, and cancer. To fully address the molecular role of VDAC in disease pathology, major questions must be answered on the structural conformers of VDAC. For example, further information is needed on the structure of the closed state, how binding partners or membrane potential could lead to the open/closed states, the function and mobility of the N-terminal α-helical domain of VDAC, and the physiological role of VDAC oligomers. This review covers our current understanding of the various states of VDAC, VDAC interaction partners, and the roles they play in mitochondrial regulation pertaining to human diseases.
    Keywords:  ATP transport; calcium homeostasis; disease; mitochondria-associated membranes; outer mitochondrial membrane; voltage-dependent anion channel (VDAC)
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.3390/cells10071737