In eukaryotic cells, heme production is tightly controlled by heme itself through negative feedback-mediated regulation of nonspecific 5-aminolevulinate synthase (ALAS1), which is a rate-limiting enzyme for heme biosynthesis. However, the mechanism driving the heme-dependent degradation of the ALAS1 protein in mitochondria is largely unknown. In the current study, we provide evidence that the mitochondrial ATP-dependent protease ClpXP, which is a heteromultimer of CLPX and CLPP, is involved in the heme-dependent degradation of ALAS1 in mitochondria. We found that ALAS1 forms a complex with ClpXP in a heme-dependent manner and that siRNA-mediated suppression of either CLPX or CLPP expression induced ALAS1 accumulation in the HepG2 human hepatic cell line. We also found that a specific heme-binding motif on ALAS1, located at the N-terminal end of the mature protein, is required for the heme-dependent formation of this protein complex. Moreover, hemin-mediated oxidative modification of ALAS1 resulted in the recruitment of LONP1, another ATP-dependent protease in the mitochondrial matrix, into the ALAS1 protein complex. Notably, the heme-binding site in the N-terminal region of the mature ALAS1 protein is also necessary for the heme-dependent oxidation of ALAS1. These results suggest that ALAS1 undergoes a conformational change following the association of heme to the heme-binding motif on this protein. This change in the structure of ALAS1 may enhance the formation of complexes between ALAS1 and ATP-dependent proteases in the mitochondria, thereby accelerating the degradation of ALAS1 protein to maintain appropriate intracellular heme levels.
Keywords: 5-aminolevulinate synthase; ATP-dependent protease; heme; mass spectrometry (MS); mitochondria; post-translational modification (PTM); protein degradation.
© 2016 by The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Inc.