bims-mecosi Biomed News
on Membrane contact sites
Issue of 2021‒08‒29
thirteen papers selected by
Verena Kohler
Stockholm University


  1. Methods Mol Biol. 2021 ;2293 229-241
      Lipid droplets (LDs) are dynamic cellular organelles found in most eukaryotic cells. Lipid incorporation from endoplasmic reticulum (ER) to LD is important in controlling LD growth and intracellular lipid homeostasis. However, the molecular link that mediates ER and LD cross talk remains elusive. Here, we describe the methodology used to characterize the function of Rab18 in regulating LD homeostasis and LD-ER contact. First, we focus on the quantitative assay used to measure intracellular LDs morphological changes. This is followed by a detailed description of the use of the APEX-label technology in combination with electron microscope (EM) to visualize ER-LD contact sites. These assays are valuable for the investigation of LD-associated proteins such as Rab18 in establishing membrane contact sites between LDs and other subcellular organelles.
    Keywords:  APEX-tag; Lipid droplets; Lipid metabolism; Membrane contact site; Rab GTPase
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-0716-1346-7_16
  2. Cell Mol Life Sci. 2021 Aug 27.
      Membrane-contact sites are getting more and more credit for their indispensable role in maintenance of cell function and homeostasis. In the last decades, the ER-mitochondrial contact sites in particular received a lot of attention. While our knowledge of ER-mitochondrial contact sites increases steadily, the focus often lies on a static exploration of their functions. However, it is increasingly clear that these contact sites are very dynamic. In this review, we highlight the dynamic nature of ER-mitochondrial contact sites and the role of kinases and phosphatases therein with a focus on recent findings. Phosphorylation events allow for rapid integration of information on the protein level, impacting protein function, localization and interaction at ER-mitochondrial contact sites. To illustrate the importance of these events and to put them in a broader perspective, we connect them to pathologies like diabetes type II, Parkinson's disease and cancer.
    Keywords:  Ca2+ signalling; Insulin signalling; Mitochondria-associated membranes; Mitochondrial dynamics; Mitophagy
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1007/s00018-021-03920-9
  3. Cells. 2021 Jul 23. pii: 1865. [Epub ahead of print]10(8):
      The VAP proteins are integral adaptor proteins of the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) membrane that recruit a myriad of interacting partners to the ER surface. Through these interactions, the VAPs mediate a large number of processes, notably the generation of membrane contact sites between the ER and essentially all other cellular membranes. In 2004, it was discovered that a mutation (p.P56S) in the VAPB paralogue causes a rare form of dominantly inherited familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS8). The mutant protein is aggregation-prone, non-functional and unstable, and its expression from a single allele appears to be insufficient to support toxic gain-of-function effects within motor neurons. Instead, loss-of-function of the single wild-type allele is required for pathological effects, and VAPB haploinsufficiency may be the main driver of the disease. In this article, we review the studies on the effects of VAPB deficit in cellular and animal models. Several basic cell physiological processes are affected by downregulation or complete depletion of VAPB, impinging on phosphoinositide homeostasis, Ca2+ signalling, ion transport, neurite extension, and ER stress. In the future, the distinction between the roles of the two VAP paralogues (A and B), as well as studies on motor neurons generated from induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) of ALS8 patients will further elucidate the pathogenic basis of p.P56S familial ALS, as well as of other more common forms of the disease.
    Keywords:  FFAT motif; VAP proteins; endoplasmic reticulum; membrane contact sites; motor neurons; neurodegeneration; phosphoinositides
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.3390/cells10081865
  4. Cells. 2021 Aug 03. pii: 1968. [Epub ahead of print]10(8):
      Presenilin 2 (PS2), one of the three proteins in which mutations are linked to familial Alzheimer's disease (FAD), exerts different functions within the cell independently of being part of the γ-secretase complex, thus unrelated to toxic amyloid peptide formation. In particular, its enrichment in endoplasmic reticulum (ER) membrane domains close to mitochondria (i.e., mitochondria-associated membranes, MAM) enables PS2 to modulate multiple processes taking place on these signaling hubs, such as Ca2+ handling and lipid synthesis. Importantly, upregulated MAM function appears to be critical in AD pathogenesis. We previously showed that FAD-PS2 mutants reinforce ER-mitochondria tethering, by interfering with the activity of mitofusin 2, favoring their Ca2+ crosstalk. Here, we deepened the molecular mechanism underlying PS2 activity on ER-mitochondria tethering, identifying its protein loop as an essential domain to mediate the reinforced ER-mitochondria connection in FAD-PS2 models. Moreover, we introduced a novel tool, the PS2 loop domain targeted to the outer mitochondrial membrane, Mit-PS2-LOOP, that is able to counteract the activity of FAD-PS2 on organelle tethering, which possibly helps in recovering the FAD-PS2-associated cellular alterations linked to an increased organelle coupling.
    Keywords:  Alzheimer’s disease; Ca2+ signaling; ER; MAM; Presenilin 2; mitochondria; organelle contacts
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.3390/cells10081968
  5. Biomedicines. 2021 Jul 24. pii: 881. [Epub ahead of print]9(8):
      Alzheimer's disease (AD) is characterized by the accumulation of extracellular plaques composed by amyloid-β (Aβ) and intracellular neurofibrillary tangles of hyperphosphorylated tau. AD-related neurodegenerative mechanisms involve early changes of mitochondria-associated endoplasmic reticulum (ER) membranes (MAMs) and impairment of cellular events modulated by these subcellular domains. In this study, we characterized the structural and functional alterations at MAM, mitochondria, and ER/microsomes in a mouse neuroblastoma cell line (N2A) overexpressing the human amyloid precursor protein (APP) with the familial Swedish mutation (APPswe). Proteins levels were determined by Western blot, ER-mitochondria contacts were quantified by transmission electron microscopy, and Ca2+ homeostasis and mitochondria function were analyzed using fluorescent probes and Seahorse assays. In this in vitro AD model, we found APP accumulated in MAM and mitochondria, and altered levels of proteins implicated in ER-mitochondria tethering, Ca2+ signaling, mitochondrial dynamics, biogenesis and protein import, as well as in the stress response. Moreover, we observed a decreased number of close ER-mitochondria contacts, activation of the ER unfolded protein response, reduced Ca2+ transfer from ER to mitochondria, and impaired mitochondrial function. Together, these results demonstrate that several subcellular alterations occur in AD-like neuronal cells, which supports that the defective ER-mitochondria crosstalk is an important player in AD physiopathology.
    Keywords:  Alzheimer’s disease; Ca2+ signaling; ER-mitochondria contacts; mitochondrial dysfunction; subcellular fractions
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.3390/biomedicines9080881
  6. Int J Mol Sci. 2021 Aug 05. pii: 8438. [Epub ahead of print]22(16):
      Recent evidence pinpoints extracellular vesicles (EVs) as key players in intercellular communication. Given the importance of cholesterol and sphingomyelin in EV biology, and the relevance of mitochondria-associated endoplasmic reticulum membranes (MAMs) in cholesterol/sphingomyelin homeostasis, we evaluated if MAMs and sphingomyelinases (SMases) could participate in ethanol-induced EV release. EVs were isolated from the extracellular medium of BV2 microglia treated or not with ethanol (50 and 100 mM). Radioactive metabolic tracers combined with thin layer chromatography were used as quantitative methods to assay phospholipid transfer, SMase activity and cholesterol uptake/esterification. Inhibitors of SMase (desipramine and GW4869) and MAM (cyclosporin A) activities were also utilized. Our data show that ethanol increases the secretion and inflammatory molecule concentration of EVs. Ethanol also upregulates MAM activity and alters lipid metabolism by increasing cholesterol uptake, cholesterol esterification and SMase activity in microglia. Notably, the inhibition of either SMase or MAM activity prevented the ethanol-induced increase in EV secretion. Collectively, these results strongly support a lipid-driven mechanism, specifically via SMases and MAM, to explain the effect of ethanol on EV secretion in glial cells.
    Keywords:  alcohol; extracellular vesicles; lipid metabolism; microglia; mitochondria-associated ER membranes; neuroinflammation; phospholipids; sphingomyelinases
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms22168438
  7. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2021 ;2021 1370862
      Although the interplay between mitochondria and ER has been identified as a crucial regulator of cellular homeostasis, the pathogenic impact of alterations in mitochondria-ER contact sites (MERCS) during myocardial postischemic reperfusion (I/R) injury remains incompletely understood. Therefore, in our study, we explored the beneficial role played by melatonin in protecting cardiomyocytes against reperfusion injury via stabilizing mitochondria-ER interaction. In vitro exposure of H9C2 rat cardiomyocytes to hypoxia/reoxygenation (H/R) augmented mitochondrial ROS synthesis, suppressed both mitochondrial potential and ATP generation, and increased the mitochondrial permeability transition pore (mPTP) opening rate. Furthermore, H/R exposure upregulated the protein content of CHOP and caspase-12, two markers of ER stress, and enhanced the transcription of main MERCS tethering proteins, namely, Fis1, BAP31, Mfn2, and IP3R. Interestingly, all the above changes could be attenuated or reversed by melatonin treatment. Suggesting that melatonin-induced cardioprotection works through normalization of mitochondria-ER interaction, overexpression of IP3R abolished the protective actions offered by melatonin on mitochondria-ER fitness. These results expand our knowledge on the cardioprotective actions of melatonin during myocardial postischemic reperfusion damage and suggest that novel, more effective treatments for acute myocardial reperfusion injury might be achieved through modulation of mitochondria-ER interaction in cardiac cells.
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1155/2021/1370862
  8. Biochim Biophys Acta Mol Cell Biol Lipids. 2021 Aug 19. pii: S1388-1981(21)00158-X. [Epub ahead of print] 159030
      In the liver, contact sites between the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and mitochondria (named MAMs) may be crucial hubs for the regulation of lipid metabolism, thus contributing to the exacerbation or prevention of fatty liver. We hypothesized that tether proteins located at MAMs could play a key role in preventing triglyceride accumulation in hepatocytes and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) occurrence. To test this, we explored the role of two key partners in building MAM integrity and functionality, the glucose-regulated protein 75 (Grp75) and mitofusin 2 (Mfn2), which liver contents are altered in obesity and NAFLD. Grp75 or Mfn2 expression was either silenced using siRNA or overexpressed with adenoviruses in Huh7 cells. Silencing of Grp75 and Mfn2 resulted in decreased ER-mitochondria interactions, mitochondrial network fusion state and mitochondrial oxidative capacity, while overexpression of the two proteins induced mirror impacts on these parameters. Furthermore, Grp75 or Mfn2 silencing decreased cellular cholesterol content and enhanced triglyceride secretion in ApoB100 lipoproteins, while their overexpression led to reverse effects. Cellular phosphatidylcholine/phosphatidylethanolamine ratio was decreased only upon overexpression of the proteins, potentially contributing to altered ApoB100 assembly and secretion. Despite the opposite differences, both silencing and overexpression of Grp75 or Mfn2 induced triglyceride storage, although a fatty acid challenge was required to express the alteration upon protein silencing. Among the mechanisms potentially involved in this phenotype, ER stress was closely associated with altered triglyceride metabolism after Grp75 or Mfn2 overexpression, while blunted mitochondrial FA oxidation capacity may be the main defect causing triglyceride accumulation upon Grp75 or Mfn2 silencing. However, further studies are required to decipher the link between modulation of Grp75 or Mfn2 expression, change in MAM integrity and alteration of cholesterol content of the cell. In conclusion, Grp75 or Mfn2 silencing and overexpression in Huh7 cells contribute to altering MAM integrity and cholesterol storage in opposite directions, but all promote triglyceride accumulation through distinct cellular pathways. This study also highlights that besides Mfn2, Grp75 could play a central role in hepatic lipid and cholesterol metabolism in obesity and NAFLD.
    Keywords:  lipid homeostasis; mitochondria-associated ER membranes; non alcoholic fatty liver diseases
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bbalip.2021.159030
  9. Cell Cycle. 2021 Aug 23. 1-17
      Lipid droplets (LDs), which are neutral lipid storage organelles, are important for lipid metabolism and energy homeostasis. LD lipolysis and interactions with mitochondria are tightly coupled to cellular metabolism and may be potential targets to buffer the effects of excessive toxic lipid species levels. Acetylcholine (ACh), the major neurotransmitter of the vagus nerve, exhibits cardioprotective effects. However, limited research has focused on its effects on LD lipolysis and the LD-mitochondria association in fatty acid (FA) overload models. Here, we reveal that palmitate (PA) induces an increase in expression of the FA transport protein cluster of differentiation 36 (CD36) and LD formation; remarkably reduces the expression of lipases involved in triacylglycerol (TAG) lipolysis, such as adipose triglyceride lipase (ATGL), hormone-sensitive lipase (HSL) and monoacylglycerol lipase (MGL); impairs LD-mitochondria interaction; and decreases perilipin 5 (PLIN5) expression, resulting in LD accumulation and mitochondrial dysfunction, which ultimately lead to cardiomyocyte apoptosis. ACh significantly upregulates PLIN5 expression and improved LD lipolysis and the LD-mitochondria association. Moreover, ACh reduces CD36 expression, LD deposition and mitochondrial dysfunction, ultimately suppressing apoptosis in PA-treated neonatal rat ventricular cardiomyocytes (NRVCs). Knockdown of PLIN5, which plays a role in LD-mitochondria contact site formation, abolishes the protective effects of ACh in PA-treated NRVCs. Thus, ACh protects cardiomyocytes from PA-induced apoptosis, at least partly, by promoting LD lipolysis and activating LD-mitochondria interactions via PLIN5. These findings may aid in developing novel therapeutic approaches that target LD lipolysis and PLIN5-mediated LD-mitochondria interactions to prevent or alleviate lipotoxic cardiomyopathy.
    Keywords:  acetylcholine; cardiomyocyte apoptosis; lipid droplet lipolysis; lipid droplet-mitochondria interaction; palmitate; perilipin 5
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1080/15384101.2021.1965734
  10. J Cell Biochem. 2021 Aug 25.
      Mitochondria function as an integrated network that moves along the microtubules within cells and changes the morphology through membrane fusion and fission events. Mitofusin (MFN) mediates membrane tethering and subsequent fusion of the mitochondrial outer membrane. Understanding the regulatory mechanisms of MFN function is critical to tackling the pathology related to mitochondrial network imbalance. Here, we reveal a novel inhibitory mechanism of MFN-mediated fusion by mitochondrial Rho GTPase (Miro1) in response to elevated mitochondrial Ca2+ concentration ([Ca2+ ]m ). We showed that elevated [Ca2+ ]m prevents the fusion between mitochondria forming the outer membrane tether by ectopically expressing MFN. Lowering [Ca2+ ]m by treating cells with an inhibitor of mitochondrial calcium uniporter or knocking down Miro1/2 induces more fused networks. Miro1 interacts with MFN as supported by co-immunoprecipitation and protein association identified by proximity labeling proteomics. It suggests that Miro1 functions as a Ca2+ -sensor and inhibits MFN function at elevated [Ca2+ ]m. Miro1 EF-hand mutant has a compromised inhibitory effect, which reiterates Ca2+ -modulated regulation. Dysregulated Ca2+ -handling and mitochondrial network imbalance are highly relevant in the pathology of cancers, cardiovascular, and neurodegenerative diseases. Miro1 functions as a coordinated Ca2+ -responder by pausing mitochondrial transport while reducing network fusion and cooperating with Drp1-mediated fission. It likely prevents the detrimental effect of Ca2+ m overload and facilitates mitophagy. Our finding reveals a novel regulation of mitochondrial network dynamics responding to [Ca2+ ]m through the interplay of Miro1 and MFN. Modulation of Miro1 and MFN interaction is a potential intervention to promote network homeostasis.
    Keywords:  mitochondrial Rho GTPase (Miro); mitochondrial calcium; mitochondrial fusion; mitochondrial network homeostasis; mitofusin (MFN)
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1002/jcb.30138
  11. Cells. 2021 Jul 26. pii: 1887. [Epub ahead of print]10(8):
      Calcium (Ca2+) signaling plays a dichotomous role in cellular biology, controlling cell survival and proliferation on the one hand and cellular toxicity and cell death on the other. Store-operated Ca2+ entry (SOCE) by CRAC channels represents a major pathway for Ca2+ entry in non-excitable cells. The CRAC channel has two key components, the endoplasmic reticulum Ca2+ sensor stromal interaction molecule (STIM) and the plasma-membrane Ca2+ channel Orai. Physical coupling between STIM and Orai opens the CRAC channel and the resulting Ca2+ flux is regulated by a negative feedback mechanism of slow Ca2+ dependent inactivation (SCDI). The identification of the SOCE-associated regulatory factor (SARAF) and investigations of its role in SCDI have led to new functional and molecular insights into how SOCE is controlled. In this review, we provide an overview of the functional and molecular mechanisms underlying SCDI and discuss how the interaction between SARAF, STIM1, and Orai1 shapes Ca2+ signaling in cells.
    Keywords:  CRAC channel; Orai1; SARAF; STIM1; slow calcium dependent inactivation (CDI); store operated calcium entry (SOCE)
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.3390/cells10081887
  12. J Cell Biol. 2021 Oct 04. pii: e202103175. [Epub ahead of print]220(10):
      Protein-rich droplets, such as stress granules, P-bodies, and the nucleolus, perform diverse and specialized cellular functions. Recent evidence has shown the droplets, which are also known as biomolecular condensates or membrane-less compartments, form by phase separation. Many droplets also contact membrane-bound organelles, thereby functioning in development, intracellular degradation, and organization. These underappreciated interactions have major implications for our fundamental understanding of cells. Starting with a brief introduction to wetting phenomena, we summarize recent progress in the emerging field of droplet-membrane contact. We describe the physical mechanism of droplet-membrane interactions, discuss how these interactions remodel droplets and membranes, and introduce "membrane scaffolding" by liquids as a novel reshaping mechanism, thereby demonstrating that droplet-membrane interactions are elastic wetting phenomena. "Membrane-less" and "membrane-bound" condensates likely represent distinct wetting states that together link phase separation with mechanosensitivity and explain key structures observed during embryogenesis, during autophagy, and at synapses. We therefore contend that droplet wetting on membranes provides a robust and intricate means of intracellular organization.
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1083/jcb.202103175