Role of Cardiolipin in Mitochondrial Signaling Pathways

Front Cell Dev Biol. 2017 Sep 29:5:90. doi: 10.3389/fcell.2017.00090. eCollection 2017.


The phospholipid cardiolipin (CL) is an essential constituent of mitochondrial membranes and plays a role in many mitochondrial processes, including respiration and energy conversion. Pathological changes in CL amount or species composition can have deleterious consequences for mitochondrial function and trigger the production of reactive oxygen species. Signaling networks monitor mitochondrial function and trigger an adequate cellular response. Here, we summarize the role of CL in cellular signaling pathways and focus on tissues with high-energy demand, like the heart. CL itself was recently identified as a precursor for the formation of lipid mediators. We highlight the concept of CL as a signaling platform. CL is exposed to the outer mitochondrial membrane upon mitochondrial stress and CL domains serve as a binding site in many cellular signaling events. During mitophagy, CL interacts with essential players of mitophagy like Beclin 1 and recruits the autophagic machinery by its interaction with LC3. Apoptotic signaling pathways require CL as a binding platform to recruit apoptotic factors such as tBid, Bax, caspase-8. CL required for the activation of the inflammasome and plays a role in inflammatory signaling. As changes in CL species composition has been observed in many diseases, the signaling pathways described here may play a general role in pathology.

Keywords: Barth-Syndrome; cardiolipin; mitochondria; respiratory chain.

Publication types

  • Review