Function and regulation of anionic phospholipids in mitochondria of Saccharomyces cerevisiae

Xuefeng Su, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


As the major anionic phospholipids predominantly found in the mitochondrial inner membrane of eukaryotic cells, cardiolipin (CL) and its precursor phosphatidylglycerol (PG) are of great importance in many critical mitochondrial processes. Pgs1Δ cells of Saccharomyces cerevisiae lacking both PG and CL display severe mitochondrial defects. Translation of several proteins including products of four mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) encoded genes (COX1, COX2, COX3, and COB ) and one nuclear-encoded gene (COX4) is inhibited. The molecular basis of this phenotype was analyzed using a combined biochemical, molecular and genetic approach. Using a mitochondrial targeted green fluorescence protein (mtGFP) fused to the COX4 promoter and its 5′ and 3′ untranslated regions (UTRs), lack of mtGFP expression independent of carbon source and strain background was confirmed to be at the translational level. The translational defect was not due to deficiency of mitochondrial respiratory function but rather caused directly by the lack of PG/CL in the mitochondrial membrane. Re-introduction of a functional PGS1 gene restored PG synthesis and expression of the above mtGFP. Deletional analysis of the 5′ UTR of COX4 mRNA revealed the presence of a 50 nt sequence as a cis-acting element inhibiting COX4 translation. Using similar constructs with HIS3 and lacZ as reporter genes, extragenic spontaneous mutations that allowed expression of His3p and β-galactosidase were isolated, which appeared to be recessive and derived from loss-of-function mutations as determined by mating analysis. Using a tetracycline repressible plasmid-borne PGS1 expression system and an in vivo mitochondrial protein translation method, the translation of mtDNA encoded COX1 and COX3 mRNAs was shown to be significantly inhibited in parallel with reduced levels of PG/CL content. Therefore, the cytoplasmic translation machinery appears to be able to sense the level of PG/CL in mitochondria and regulate COX4 translation coordinately with the mtDNA encoded subunits. The essential requirement of PG and CL in mitochondrial function was further demonstrated in the study of CL synthesis by factors affecting mitochondrial biogenesis such as carbon source, growth phase or mitochondrial mutations at the level of transcription. We have also demonstrated that CL synthesis is dependent on the level of PG and INO2/INO4 regulatory genes.

Subject Area

Molecular biology|Genetics

Recommended Citation

Su, Xuefeng, "Function and regulation of anionic phospholipids in mitochondria of Saccharomyces cerevisiae" (2005). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3163232.