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Stoichiometric expression of mtHsp40 and mtHsp70 modulates mitochondrial morphology and cristae structure via Opa1L cleavage


Deregulation of mitochondrial heat-shock protein 40 (mtHsp40) and dysfunction of mtHsp70 are associated with mitochondrial fragmentation, suggesting that mtHsp40 and mtHsp70 may play roles in modulating mitochondrial morphology. However, the mechanism of mitochondrial fragmentation induced by mtHsp40 deregulation and mtHsp70 dysfunction remains unclear. In addition, the functional link between mitochondrial morphology change upon deregulated mtHsp40/mtHsp70 and mitochondrial function has been unexplored. Our coimmunoprecipitation and protein aggregation analysis showed that both overexpression and depletion of mtHsp40 accumulated aggregated proteins in fragmented mitochondria. Moreover, mtHsp70 loss and expression of a mtHsp70 mutant lacking the client-binding domain caused mitochondrial fragmentation. Together the data suggest that the molecular ratio of mtHsp40 to mtHsp70 is important for their chaperone function and mitochondrial morphology. Whereas mitochondrial translocation of Drp1 was not altered, optic atrophy 1 (Opa1) short isoform accumulated in fragmented mitochondria, suggesting that mitochondrial fragmentation in this study results from aberration of mitochondrial inner membrane fusion. Finally, we found that fragmented mitochondria were defective in cristae development, OXPHOS, and ATP production. Taken together, our data suggest that impaired stoichiometry between mtHsp40 and mtHsp70 promotes Opa1L cleavage, leading to cristae opening, decreased OXPHOS, and triggering of mitochondrial fragmentation after reduction in their chaperone function.

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