Dynamin-related protein 1 (Drp1), an 80 kDa mechanochemical GTPase of the dynamin superfamily, is required for mitochondrial division in mammals. Despite the role of Drp1 dysfunction in human disease, its molecular mechanism remains poorly understood. Here, we examined the effect of Drp1 on membrane curvature using tubes pulled from giant unilamellar vesicles (GUVs). We found that GTP promoted rapid rearrangement of Drp1 from a uniform distribution to discrete foci, in line with the assembly of Drp1 scaffolds at multiple nucleation sites around the lipid tube. Polymerized Drp1 preserved the membrane tube below the protein coat, also in the absence of pulling forces, but did not induce spontaneous membrane fission. Strikingly, Drp1 polymers stabilized membrane curvatures similar to those of constricted mitochondria against pressure changes. Our findings support a new model for mitochondrial division whereby Drp1 mainly acts as a scaffold for membrane curvature stabilization, which sets it apart from other dynamin homologs.
Keywords: Curvature stabilizer; Dynamin-related protein 1; Membrane biophysics; Membrane curvature; Mitochondrial fission; Protein self-assembly.
© 2018. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd.