Sumo1 conjugates mitochondrial substrates and participates in mitochondrial fission

Curr Biol. 2004 Feb 17;14(4):340-5. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2004.02.004.


Mitochondrial fission requires the evolutionarily conserved dynamin related protein (DRP1), which is recruited from the cytosol to the mitochondrial outer membrane to coordinate membrane scission. Currently, the mechanism of recruitment and assembly of DRP1 on the mitochondria is unclear. Here, we identify Ubc9 and Sumo1 as specific DRP1-interacting proteins and demonstrate that DRP1 is a Sumo1 substrate. In addition, a surprising number of Sumo1 conjugates were observed in the mitochondrial fractions, suggesting that sumoylation is a common mitochondrial modification. Video microscopy demonstrates that YFP:Sumo1 is often found at the site of mitochondrial fission and remains tightly associated to the tips of fragmented mitochondria. Consistent with this, fluorescence microscopy revealed that a portion of total cytosolic YFP:Sumo1 colocalizes with endogenous mitochondrial DRP1. Finally, transient transfection of Sumo1 dramatically increases the level of mitochondrial fragmentation. Analysis of endogenous DRP1 levels indicates that overexpression of Sumo1 specifically protects DRP1 from degradation, resulting in a more stable, active pool of DRP1, which at least partially accounts for the excess fragmentation. Together, these data are the first to identify a function for Sumo1 on the mitochondria and suggest a novel role for the participation of Sumo1 in mitochondrial fission.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blotting, Western
  • COS Cells
  • Chlorocebus aethiops
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Microscopy, Video
  • Mitochondria / metabolism*
  • SUMO-1 Protein / metabolism*
  • Transfection
  • Ubiquitin-Conjugating Enzymes / metabolism


  • SUMO-1 Protein
  • Ubiquitin-Conjugating Enzymes
  • ubiquitin-conjugating enzyme UBC9