Mitochondrial membrane biogenesis: phospholipids and proteins go hand in hand

J Cell Biol. 2009 Feb 23;184(4):469-72. doi: 10.1083/jcb.200901127.


Mitochondrial membrane biogenesis requires the import and synthesis of proteins as well as phospholipids. How the mitochondrion regulates phospholipid levels and maintains a tight protein-to-phospholipid ratio is not well understood. Two recent papers (Kutik, S., M. Rissler, X.L. Guan, B. Guiard, G. Shui, N. Gebert, P.N. Heacock, P. Rehling, W. Dowhan, M.R. Wenk, et al. 2008. J. Cell Biol. 183:1213-1221; Osman, C., M. Haag, C. Potting, J. Rodenfels, P.V. Dip, F.T. Wieland, B. Brügger, B. Westermann, and T. Langer. 2009. J. Cell Biol. 184:583-596) identify novel regulators of mitochondrial phospholipid biosynthesis. The biochemical approach of Kutik et al. (2008) uncovered an unexpected role of the mitochondrial translocator assembly and maintenance protein, Tam41, in the biosynthesis of cardiolipin (CL), the signature phospholipid of mitochondria. The genetic analyses of Osman et al. (2009) led to the discovery of a new class of mitochondrial proteins that coordinately regulate CL and phosphatidylethanolamine, another key mitochondrial phospholipid. These elegant studies highlight overlapping functions and interdependent roles of mitochondrial phospholipid biosynthesis and protein import and assembly.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biosynthetic Pathways
  • Humans
  • Mitochondrial Membranes / metabolism*
  • Mitochondrial Proteins / metabolism*
  • Phospholipids / metabolism*


  • Mitochondrial Proteins
  • Phospholipids