Mitochondrial dysfunction is a hallmark of aging, and underlies the development of many diseases. Cells maintain mitochondrial homeostasis through a number of pathways that remodel the mitochondrial proteome or alter mitochondrial content during times of stress or metabolic adaptation. Here, using yeast as a model system, we identify a new mitochondrial degradation system that remodels the mitochondrial proteome of aged cells. Unlike many common mitochondrial degradation pathways, this system selectively removes a subset of membrane proteins from the mitochondrial inner and outer membranes, while leaving the remainder of the organelle intact. Selective removal of preexisting proteins is achieved by sorting into a mitochondrial-derived compartment, or MDC, followed by release through mitochondrial fission and elimination by autophagy. Formation of MDCs requires the import receptors Tom70/71, and failure to form these structures exacerbates preexisting mitochondrial dysfunction, suggesting that the MDC pathway provides protection to mitochondria in times of stress.
- Andrew Dillin, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, University of California, Berkeley, United States
© 2016, Hughes et al.
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A major goal of biological imaging is localization of biomolecules inside a cell. Fluorescence microscopy can localize biomolecules inside whole cells and tissues, but its ability to count biomolecules and accuracy of the spatial coordinates is limited by the wavelength of visible light. Cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) provides highly accurate position and orientation information of biomolecules but is often confined to small fields of view inside a cell, limiting biological context. In this study, we use a new data-acquisition scheme called Defocus-Corrected Large-Area cryo-EM (DeCo-LACE) to collect high-resolution images of entire sections (100- to 250-nm-thick lamellae) of neutrophil-like mouse cells, representing 1–2% of the total cellular volume. We use 2D template matching (2DTM) to determine localization and orientation of the large ribosomal subunit in these sections. These data provide maps of ribosomes across entire sections of mammalian cells. This high-throughput cryo-EM data collection approach together with 2DTM will advance visual proteomics and provide biological insight that cannot be obtained by other methods.
Having its genome makes the mitochondrion a unique and semiautonomous organelle within cells. Mammalian mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is a double-stranded closed circular molecule of about 16 kb coding for 37 genes. Mutations, including deletions in the mitochondrial genome, can culminate in different human diseases. Mapping the deletion junctions suggests that the breakpoints are generally seen at hotspots. ‘9 bp deletion’ (8271–8281), seen in the intergenic region of cytochrome c oxidase II/tRNALys, is the most common mitochondrial deletion. While it is associated with several diseases like myopathy, dystonia, and hepatocellular carcinoma, it has also been used as an evolutionary marker. However, the mechanism responsible for its fragility is unclear. In the current study, we show that Endonuclease G, a mitochondrial nuclease responsible for nonspecific cleavage of nuclear DNA during apoptosis, can induce breaks at sequences associated with ‘9 bp deletion’ when it is present on a plasmid or in the mitochondrial genome. Through a series of in vitro and intracellular studies, we show that Endonuclease G binds to G-quadruplex structures formed at the hotspot and induces DNA breaks. Therefore, we uncover a new role for Endonuclease G in generating mtDNA deletions, which depends on the formation of G4 DNA within the mitochondrial genome. In summary, we identify a novel property of Endonuclease G, besides its role in apoptosis and the recently described ‘elimination of paternal mitochondria during fertilisation.