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Mifsud J.,The Medical Research Council
Molecular membrane biology | Year: 2013

The mitochondrial ADP/ATP carrier imports ADP from the cytosol into the mitochondrial matrix for its conversion to ATP by ATP synthase and exports ATP out of the mitochondrion to replenish the eukaryotic cell with chemical energy. Here the substrate specificity of the human mitochondrial ADP/ATP carrier AAC1 was determined by two different approaches. In the first the protein was functionally expressed in Escherichia coli membranes as a fusion protein with maltose binding protein and the effect of excess of unlabeled compounds on the uptake of [(32)P]-ATP was measured. In the second approach the protein was expressed in the cytoplasmic membrane of Lactococcus lactis. The uptake of [(14)C]-ADP in whole cells was measured in the presence of excess of unlabeled compounds and in fused membrane vesicles loaded with unlabeled compounds to demonstrate their transport. A large number of nucleotides were tested, but only ADP and ATP are suitable substrates for human AAC1, demonstrating a very narrow specificity. Next we tried to understand the molecular basis of this specificity by carrying out molecular-dynamics simulations with selected nucleotides, which were placed at the entrance of the central cavity. The binding of the phosphate groups of guanine and adenine nucleotides is similar, yet there is a low probability for the base moiety to be bound, likely to be rooted in the greater polarity of guanine compared to adenine. AMP is unlikely to engage fully with all contact points of the substrate binding site, suggesting that it cannot trigger translocation.

Robinson A.J.,The Medical Research Council | Kunji E.R.S.,The Medical Research Council | Gross A.,Weizmann Institute of Science
Experimental Cell Research | Year: 2012

Recent studies report mitochondrial carrier homolog 2 (MTCH2) as a novel and uncharacterized protein that acts as a receptor-like protein for the truncated BH3-interacting domain death agonist (tBID) protein in the outer membrane of mitochondria. These studies, using mouse embryonic stem cells and fibroblasts as well as mice with a conditional knockout of . MTCH2 in the liver, showed that deletion of . MTCH2 hindered recruitment of tBID to the mitochondria with subsequent reductions in the activation of pro-apoptotic proteins, mitochondrial outer membrane permeabilization and apoptosis. Sequence analysis shows that MTCH2 is present in all examined multicellular Metazoa as well as unicellular Choanoflagellata, and is a highly derived member of the mitochondrial carrier family. Mitochondrial carriers are monomeric transport proteins that are usually found in the inner mitochondrial membrane, where they exchange small substrates between the mitochondrial matrix and intermembrane space. There are extensive differences between the protein sequences of MTCH2 and other mitochondrial carriers that may explain the ability of MTCH2 to associate with tBID and thus its role in apoptosis. We review the experimental evidence for the role of MTCH2 in apoptosis and suggest that the original transport function of the ancestral MTCH2 mitochondrial carrier has been co-opted by the apoptotic machinery to provide a receptor and signaling mechanism. © 2012 Elsevier Inc.

Kunji E.R.S.,The Medical Research Council | Crichton P.G.,The Medical Research Council
Biochimica et Biophysica Acta - Bioenergetics | Year: 2010

Mitochondrial carriers link biochemical pathways in the mitochondrial matrix and cytosol by transporting metabolites, inorganic ions, nucleotides and cofactors across the mitochondrial inner membrane. Uncoupling proteins that dissipate the proton electrochemical gradient also belong to this protein family. For almost 35. years the general consensus has been that mitochondrial carriers are dimeric in structure and function. This view was based on data from inhibitor binding studies, small-angle neutron scattering, electron microscopy, differential tagging/affinity chromatography, size-exclusion chromatography, analytical ultracentrifugation, native gel electrophoresis, cross-linking experiments, tandem-fusions, negative dominance studies and mutagenesis. However, the structural folds of the ADP/ATP carriers were found to be monomeric, lacking obvious dimerisation interfaces. Subsequently, the yeast ADP/ATP carrier was demonstrated to function as a monomer. Here, we revisit the data that have been published in support of a dimeric state of mitochondrial carriers. Our analysis shows that when critical factors are taken into account, the monomer is the only plausible functional form of mitochondrial carriers. We propose a transport model based on the monomer, in which access to a single substrate binding site is controlled by two flanking salt bridge networks, explaining uniport and strict exchange of substrates. © 2010 Elsevier B.V.

Kunji E.R.S.,The Medical Research Council | Robinson A.J.,The Medical Research Council
Current Opinion in Structural Biology | Year: 2010

Members of the mitochondrial carrier family are involved in transporting keto acids, amino acids, nucleotides, inorganic ions and co-factors across the mitochondrial inner membrane. The transporters are thought to share the same structural fold, which consists of six trans-membrane α-helices and three matrix helices, arranged with threefold pseudo-symmetry. During the transport cycle two salt bridge networks on either side of the central cavity might regulate access to a single substrate binding site in an alternating fashion. In the case of proton-substrate symporters the substrate binding sites contain also negatively charged residues that are proposed to be involved in proton transport. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd.

Smith A.C.,The Medical Research Council | Robinson A.J.,The Medical Research Council
BMC Systems Biology | Year: 2011

Mitochondria are a vital component of eukaryotic cells and their dysfunction is implicated in a large number of metabolic, degenerative and age-related human diseases. The mechanism or these disorders can be difficult to elucidate due to the inherent complexity of mitochondrial metabolism. To understand how mitochondrial metabolic dysfunction contributes to these diseases, a metabolic model of a human heart mitochondrion was created.Results: A new model of mitochondrial metabolism was built on the principle of metabolite availability using MitoMiner, a mitochondrial proteomics database, to evaluate the subcellular localisation of reactions that have evidence for mitochondrial localisation. Extensive curation and manual refinement was used to create a model called iAS253, containing 253 reactions, 245 metabolites and 89 transport steps across the inner mitochondrial membrane. To demonstrate the predictive abilities of the model, flux balance analysis was used to calculate metabolite fluxes under normal conditions and to simulate three metabolic disorders that affect the TCA cycle: fumarase deficiency, succinate dehydrogenase deficiency and α-ketoglutarate dehydrogenase deficiency.Conclusion: The results of simulations using the new model corresponded closely with phenotypic data under normal conditions and provided insight into the complicated and unintuitive phenotypes of the three disorders, including the effect of interventions that may be of therapeutic benefit, such as low glucose diets or amino acid supplements. The model offers the ability to investigate other mitochondrial disorders and can provide the framework for the integration of experimental data in future studies. © 2011 Smith and Robinson; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

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