A vesicular transport pathway shuttles cargo from mitochondria to lysosomes

Curr Biol. 2012 Jan 24;22(2):135-41. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2011.11.057. Epub 2012 Jan 5.


Mitochondrial respiration relies on electron transport, an essential yet dangerous process in that it leads to the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS). ROS can be neutralized within the mitochondria through enzymatic activity, yet the mechanism for steady-state removal of oxidized mitochondrial protein complexes and lipids is not well understood. We have previously characterized vesicular profiles budding from the mitochondria that carry selected cargo. At least one population of these mitochondria-derived vesicles (MDVs) targets the peroxisomes; however, the fate of the majority of MDVs was unclear. Here, we demonstrate that MDVs carry selected cargo to the lysosomes. Using a combination of confocal and electron microscopy, we observe MDVs in steady state and demonstrate that they are stimulated as an early response to oxidative stress, the extent of which is determined by the respiratory status of the mitochondria. Delivery to the lysosomes does not require mitochondrial depolarization and is independent of ATG5 and LC3, suggesting that vesicle delivery complements mitophagy. Consistent with this, ultrastructural analysis of MDV formation revealed Tom20-positive structures within the vesicles of multivesicular bodies. These data characterize a novel vesicle transport route between the mitochondria and lysosomes, providing insights into the basic mechanisms of mitochondrial quality control.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • COS Cells
  • Chlorocebus aethiops
  • HeLa Cells
  • Humans
  • Lysosomes / physiology*
  • Mitochondria / physiology*
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Transport Vesicles / physiology*