Function of cardiolipin in mitochondria of Saccharomyces cerevisiae

Mei Zhang, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


Cardiolipin and its precursor phosphatidylglycerol, phospholipids found uniquely in membranes engaged in oxidative phosphorylation, play important roles in multimeric complexes of the energy transducing system (ETS) associated with the inner mitochondrial membrane. A combined molecular genetic and biochemical approach was used to more precisely define the role of cardiolipin in cell processes. Strains of yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae unable to synthesize cardiolipin because of the crd1Δ allele (encodes cardiolipin synthase) with different phenotypes were analyzed to determine which phenotypes are due to lack of cardiolipin. We concluded that many of the severe phenotypes ascribed to cells lacking cardiolipin, particularly when grown at 37°C, are because of the synergistic interaction of the crd1Δ mutation with the reduced expression of the PET56 gene which encodes a component essential for the formation of functional mitochondrial ribosomes. We also demonstrate that much of the reduced mitochondrial function in crd1Δ is because of reduced expression of ETS components at elevated temperature. A crd1Δ mutant of S. cerevisiae has less severe physiological changes than strains lacking both phosphatidylglycerol and cardiolipin due to an increased level of phosphatidylglycerol, which might partially substitute for the cardiolipin-requiring functions. By varying the level of cardiolipin, we were able to correlate phenotypes in a dose-dependent manner with the level of cardiolipin to support more strongly an involvement of cardiolipin in a particular cellular process. There is almost complete lack of a supercomplex composed of cytochrome bc1 complex (complex III) and cytochrome c oxidase (complex IV) in extracts of cardiolipin-lacking mitochondria when compared to wild type cells and the level of supercomplex varies in proportion to the cardiolipin levels. Reduced cardiolipin levels also compromise the growth properties of yeast in a dose-dependent manner suggesting that the loss in growth efficiency is related to a role of cardiolipin that cannot be replaced by phosphatidylglycerol. An independent kinetic approach was performed to compare organization of the respiratory chain in wild-type and cardiolipin-lacking mitochondria. Cardiolipin-lacking mitochondria display kinetic properties for electron transfer between complexes III and IV via cytochrome c consistent with cytochrome c being a freely diffusible carrier, confirming complexes III and IV exist as individual complexes and not associated into a supercomplex in cardiolipin-lacking mitochondria.

Subject Area

Molecular biology

Recommended Citation

Zhang, Mei, "Function of cardiolipin in mitochondria of Saccharomyces cerevisiae" (2004). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3143329.