Insight into the fission mechanism by quantitative characterization of Drp1 protein distribution in the living cell

Sci Rep. 2018 May 25;8(1):8122. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-26578-z.


One of the main players in the process of mitochondrial fragmentation is dynamin-related protein 1 (Drp1), which assembles into a helical ring-like structure on the mitochondria and facilitates fission. The fission mechanism is still poorly understood and detailed information concerning oligomeric form of Drp1, its cellular distribution and the size of the fission complex is missing. To estimate oligomeric forms of Drp1 in the cytoplasm and on the mitochondria, we performed a quantitative analysis of Drp1 diffusion and distribution in gene-edited HeLa cell lines. This paper provides an insight into the fission mechanism based on the quantitative description of Drp1 cellular distribution. We found that approximately half of the endogenous GFP-Drp1 pool remained in the cytoplasm, predominantly in a tetrameric form, at a concentration of 28 ± 9 nM. The Drp1 mitochondrial pool included many different oligomeric states with equilibrium distributions that could be described by isodesmic supramolecular polymerization with a Kd of 31 ± 10 nM. We estimated the average number of Drp1 molecules forming the functional fission complex to be approximately 100, representing not more than 14% of all Drp1 oligomers. We showed that the upregulated fission induced by niclosamide is accompanied by an increase in the number of large Drp1 oligomers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cell Survival
  • Cytoplasm / metabolism
  • Dynamins
  • GTP Phosphohydrolases / chemistry
  • GTP Phosphohydrolases / metabolism*
  • HeLa Cells
  • Humans
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins / chemistry
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins / metabolism*
  • Mitochondria / metabolism
  • Mitochondrial Proteins / chemistry
  • Mitochondrial Proteins / metabolism*
  • Models, Molecular
  • Protein Multimerization
  • Protein Structure, Quaternary
  • Protein Transport
  • Viscosity


  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins
  • Mitochondrial Proteins
  • GTP Phosphohydrolases
  • DNM1L protein, human
  • Dynamins