bims-mitdyn Biomed News
on Mitochondrial dynamics: mechanisms
Issue of 2021‒11‒21
ten papers selected by
Edmond Chan
Queen’s University, School of Medicine

  1. Nat Nanotechnol. 2021 Nov 18.
      Cancer progresses by evading the immune system. Elucidating diverse immune evasion strategies is a critical step in the search for next-generation immunotherapies for cancer. Here we report that cancer cells can hijack the mitochondria from immune cells via physical nanotubes. Mitochondria are essential for metabolism and activation of immune cells. By using field-emission scanning electron microscopy, fluorophore-tagged mitochondrial transfer tracing and metabolic quantification, we demonstrate that the nanotube-mediated transfer of mitochondria from immune cells to cancer cells metabolically empowers the cancer cells and depletes the immune cells. Inhibiting the nanotube assembly machinery significantly reduced mitochondrial transfer and prevented the depletion of immune cells. Combining a farnesyltransferase and geranylgeranyltransferase 1 inhibitor, namely, L-778123, which partially inhibited nanotube formation and mitochondrial transfer, with a programmed cell death protein 1 immune checkpoint inhibitor improved the antitumour outcomes in an aggressive immunocompetent breast cancer model. Nanotube-mediated mitochondrial hijacking can emerge as a novel target for developing next-generation immunotherapy agents for cancer.
  2. Mol Cell. 2021 Nov 08. pii: S1097-2765(21)00910-2. [Epub ahead of print]
      Mitochondria contain a specific translation machinery for the synthesis of mitochondria-encoded respiratory chain components. Mitochondrial tRNAs (mt-tRNAs) are also generated from the mitochondrial DNA and, similar to their cytoplasmic counterparts, are post-transcriptionally modified. Here, we find that the RNA methyltransferase METTL8 is a mitochondrial protein that facilitates 3-methyl-cytidine (m3C) methylation at position C32 of the mt-tRNASer(UCN) and mt-tRNAThr. METTL8 knockout cells show a reduction in respiratory chain activity, whereas overexpression increases activity. In pancreatic cancer, METTL8 levels are high, which correlates with lower patient survival and an enhanced respiratory chain activity. Mitochondrial ribosome profiling uncovered mitoribosome stalling on mt-tRNASer(UCN)- and mt-tRNAThr-dependent codons. Further analysis of the respiratory chain complexes using mass spectrometry revealed reduced incorporation of the mitochondrially encoded proteins ND6 and ND1 into complex I. The well-balanced translation of mt-tRNASer(UCN)- and mt-tRNAThr-dependent codons through METTL8-mediated m3C32 methylation might, therefore, facilitate the optimal composition and function of the mitochondrial respiratory chain.
    Keywords:  METTL8; RNA modification; m(3)C; mt-tRNA; translation
  3. EMBO Rep. 2021 Nov 15. e53054
      Cancer cells depend on mitochondria to sustain their increased metabolic need and mitochondria therefore constitute possible targets for cancer treatment. We recently developed small-molecule inhibitors of mitochondrial transcription (IMTs) that selectively impair mitochondrial gene expression. IMTs have potent antitumor properties in vitro and in vivo, without affecting normal tissues. Because therapy-induced resistance is a major constraint to successful cancer therapy, we investigated mechanisms conferring resistance to IMTs. We employed a CRISPR-Cas9 (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats)-(CRISP-associated protein 9) whole-genome screen to determine pathways conferring resistance to acute IMT1 treatment. Loss of genes belonging to von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) and mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1) pathways caused resistance to acute IMT1 treatment and the relevance of these pathways was confirmed by chemical modulation. We also generated cells resistant to chronic IMT treatment to understand responses to persistent mitochondrial gene expression impairment. We report that IMT1-acquired resistance occurs through a compensatory increase of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) expression and cellular metabolites. We found that mitochondrial transcription factor A (TFAM) downregulation and inhibition of mitochondrial translation impaired survival of resistant cells. The identified susceptibility and resistance mechanisms to IMTs may be relevant for different types of mitochondria-targeted therapies.
    Keywords:  CRISPR-Cas9 screen; cancer; chemoresistance; inhibitor of mitochondrial transcription; mtDNA
  4. Nat Metab. 2021 Nov;3(11): 1521-1535
      Eukaryotic cells can survive the loss of their mitochondrial genome, but consequently suffer from severe growth defects. 'Petite yeasts', characterized by mitochondrial genome loss, are instrumental for studying mitochondrial function and physiology. However, the molecular cause of their reduced growth rate remains an open question. Here we show that petite cells suffer from an insufficient capacity to synthesize glutamate, glutamine, leucine and arginine, negatively impacting their growth. Using a combination of molecular genetics and omics approaches, we demonstrate the evolution of fast growth overcomes these amino acid deficiencies, by alleviating a perturbation in mitochondrial iron metabolism and by restoring a defect in the mitochondrial tricarboxylic acid cycle, caused by aconitase inhibition. Our results hence explain the slow growth of mitochondrial genome-deficient cells with a partial auxotrophy in four amino acids that results from distorted iron metabolism and an inhibited tricarboxylic acid cycle.
  5. EMBO J. 2021 Nov 17. e109519
      Mitochondrial ribosomes are complex molecular machines indispensable for respiration. Their assembly involves the import of several dozens of mitochondrial ribosomal proteins (MRPs), encoded in the nuclear genome, into the mitochondrial matrix. Proteomic and structural data as well as computational predictions indicate that up to 25% of yeast MRPs do not have a conventional N-terminal mitochondrial targeting signal (MTS). We experimentally characterized a set of 15 yeast MRPs in vivo and found that five use internal MTSs. Further analysis of a conserved model MRP, Mrp17/bS6m, revealed the identity of the internal targeting signal. Similar to conventional MTS-containing proteins, the internal sequence mediates binding to TOM complexes. The entire sequence of Mrp17 contains positive charges mediating translocation. The fact that these sequence properties could not be reliably predicted by standard methods shows that mitochondrial protein targeting is more versatile than expected. We hypothesize that structural constraints imposed by ribosome assembly interfaces may have disfavored N-terminal presequences and driven the evolution of internal targeting signals in MRPs.
    Keywords:  mitochondria; mitochondrial ribosome; mitochondrial targeting signal; targeting; translocation
  6. Autophagy. 2021 Nov 19. 1-11
      PINK1 accumulation at the outer mitochondrial membrane (OMM) is a key event required to signal depolarized mitochondria to the autophagy machinery. How this early step is, in turn, modulated by autophagy proteins remains less characterized. Here, we show that, upon mitochondrial depolarization, the proautophagic protein AMBRA1 is recruited to the OMM and interacts with PINK1 and ATAD3A, a transmembrane protein that mediates mitochondrial import and degradation of PINK1. Downregulation of AMBRA1 expression results in reduced levels of PINK1 due to its enhanced degradation by the mitochondrial protease LONP1, which leads to a decrease in PINK1-mediated ubiquitin phosphorylation and mitochondrial PRKN/PARKIN recruitment. Notably, ATAD3A silencing rescues defective PINK1 accumulation in AMBRA1-deficient cells upon mitochondrial damage. Overall, our findings underline an upstream contribution of AMBRA1 in the control of PINK1-PRKN mitophagy by interacting with ATAD3A and promoting PINK1 stability. This novel regulatory element may account for changes of PINK1 levels in neuropathological conditions.
    Keywords:  Autophagy; LONP1; PRKN/PARKIN; TOMM complex; ubiquitin phosphorylation
  7. Life Sci Alliance. 2022 Feb;pii: e202101278. [Epub ahead of print]5(2):
      The accumulation of sphingolipid species in the cell contributes to the development of obesity and neurological disease. However, the subcellular localization of sphingolipid-synthesizing enzymes is unclear, limiting the understanding of where and how these lipids accumulate inside the cell and why they are toxic. Here, we show that SPTLC2, a subunit of the serine palmitoyltransferase (SPT) complex, catalyzing the first step in de novo sphingolipid synthesis, localizes dually to the ER and the outer mitochondrial membrane. We demonstrate that mitochondrial SPTLC2 interacts and forms a complex in trans with the ER-localized SPT subunit SPTLC1. Loss of SPTLC2 prevents the synthesis of mitochondrial sphingolipids and protects from palmitate-induced mitochondrial toxicity, a process dependent on mitochondrial ceramides. Our results reveal the in trans assembly of an enzymatic complex at an organellar membrane contact site, providing novel insight into the localization of sphingolipid synthesis and the composition and function of ER-mitochondria contact sites.
  8. Autophagy. 2021 Nov 15. 1-3
      Mitochondria are critical organelles that maintain cellular metabolism and overall function. The catabolic pathway of autophagy plays a central role in recycling damaged mitochondria. Although the autophagy pathway is indispensable for some cancer cell survival, our latest study shows that rare autophagy-dependent cancer cells can adapt to loss of this core pathway. In the process, the autophagy-deficient cells acquire unique dependencies on alternate forms of mitochondrial homeostasis. These rare autophagy-deficient clones circumvent the lack of canonical autophagy by increasing mitochondrial dynamics and by recycling damaged mitochondria via mitochondrial-derived vesicles (MDVs). These studies are the first to implicate MDVs in cancer cell metabolism although many unanswered questions remain about this non-canonical pathway.
    Keywords:  Cancer; mitochondrial fusion; mitochondrial-derived vesicles; mitophagy; non-canonical autophagy
  9. J Biol Chem. 2021 Nov 13. pii: S0021-9258(21)01217-5. [Epub ahead of print] 101410
      Pluripotent stem cells are known to shift their mitochondrial metabolism upon differentiation, but the mechanisms underlying such metabolic rewiring are not fully understood. We hypothesized that during differentiation of human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs), mitochondria undergo mitophagy and are then replenished by the biogenesis of new mitochondria adapted to the metabolic needs of the differentiated cell. To evaluate mitophagy during iPSC differentiation, we performed live cell imaging of mitochondria and lysosomes in hiPSCs differentiating into vascular endothelial cells using confocal microscopy. We observed a burst of mitophagy during the initial phases of hiPSC differentiation into the endothelial lineage, followed by subsequent mitochondrial biogenesis as assessed by the mitochondrial biogenesis biosensor MitoTimer. Furthermore, hiPSCs undergoing differentiation showed greater mitochondrial oxidation of fatty acids and an increase in ATP levels as assessed by an ATP biosensor. We also found that during mitophagy, the mitochondrial phosphatase PGAM5 is cleaved in hiPSC-derived endothelial progenitor cells and in turn activates β-catenin-mediated transcription of the transcriptional co-activator PGC-1α, which upregulates mitochondrial biogenesis. These data suggest that mitophagy itself initiates the increase in mitochondrial biogenesis and oxidative metabolism through transcriptional changes during endothelial cell differentiation. In summary, these findings reveal a mitophagy-mediated mechanism for metabolic rewiring and maturation of differentiating cells via the β-catenin signaling pathway. We propose that such mitochondrial-nuclear crosstalk during hiPSC differentiation could be leveraged to enhance the metabolic maturation of differentiated cells.
    Keywords:  cell differentiation; induced pluripotent stem cells; mitochondrial metabolism; mitophagy; β-catenin
  10. J Cell Biol. 2021 Dec 06. pii: e202103036. [Epub ahead of print]220(12):
      In eukaryotes, chromatin binding to the inner nuclear membrane (INM) and nuclear pore complexes (NPCs) contributes to spatial organization of the genome and epigenetic programs important for gene expression. In mitosis, chromatin-nuclear envelope (NE) interactions are lost and then formed again as sister chromosomes segregate to postmitotic nuclei. Investigating these processes in S. cerevisiae, we identified temporally and spatially controlled phosphorylation-dependent SUMOylation events that positively regulate postmetaphase chromatin association with the NE. Our work establishes a phosphorylation-mediated targeting mechanism of the SUMO ligase Siz2 to the INM during mitosis, where Siz2 binds to and SUMOylates the VAP protein Scs2. The recruitment of Siz2 through Scs2 is further responsible for a wave of SUMOylation along the INM that supports the assembly and anchorage of subtelomeric chromatin at the INM and localization of an active gene (INO1) to NPCs during the later stages of mitosis and into G1-phase.