Identification of the N-terminal transmembrane domain of StarD7 and its importance for mitochondrial outer membrane localization and phosphatidylcholine transfer

Sci Rep. 2017 Aug 18;7(1):8793. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-09205-1.


StarD7 facilitates phosphatidylcholine (PC) transfer to mitochondria, and is essential for mitochondrial homeostasis. However, the molecular mechanism for PC transfer by protein remains poorly understood. Herein, we describe a putative novel transmembrane (TM) domain C-terminal to the mitochondria-targeting signal (MTS) sequence at the N-terminus of StarD7. The mature form of StarD7 is integrated and/or associated onto the outer leaflet of the outer mitochondrial membrane (OMM) in HEPA-1 and HepG2 cells. A truncated form of StarD7 lacking the TM domain is distributed in the inner space of the mitochondria, and cannot reverse mitochondrial abnormalities, such as complex formation and PC content, when re-expressed in StarD7-KO HEPA-1 cells. Re-expression of wild StarD7 can compensate these mitochondrial functions of StarD7-KO HEPA-1 cells. The precursor form of StarD7 is cleaved between Met76 and Ala77, and Ala77 and Ala78 in the TM domain to produce the mature form. These results suggest that StarD7 is anchored onto the OMM through its N-terminal TM domain, and the C-terminal START domain may extend into the cytoplasm and shuttle PC between the ER and OMM at the ER-mitochondria contact sites.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Biological Transport
  • Carrier Proteins / chemistry
  • Carrier Proteins / genetics
  • Carrier Proteins / metabolism*
  • Cell Line
  • Cytosol / metabolism
  • Gene Knockout Techniques
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Mice
  • Mitochondrial Membranes / metabolism*
  • Models, Biological
  • Phosphatidylcholines / metabolism*
  • Protein Domains*
  • Protein Interaction Domains and Motifs*


  • Carrier Proteins
  • Phosphatidylcholines
  • STARD7 protein, human