Cardiolipin interacts with many proteins of the mitochondrial inner membrane and, together with cytochrome C and creatine kinase, activates them. It can be considered as an integrating factor for components of the mitochondrial respiratory chain, which provides for an efficient transfer of electrons and protons. The major, if not the only, factor of cardiolipin maturation is tafazzin. Variations of isoform proportions of this enzyme can cause severe diseases such as Barth syndrome. Using bioinformatic methods, we have found conserved C-terminal regions in many tafazzin isoforms and identified new mammalian species that acquired exon 5 as well as rare occasions of intron retention between exons 8 and 9. The regions in the C-terminal part arise from frameshifts relative to the full-length TAZ transcript after skipping exon 9 or retention of the intron between exons 10 and 11. These modifications demonstrate specific distribution among the orders of mammals. The dependence of the species maximum lifespan, body weight, and mitochondrial metabolic rate on the modifications has been demonstrated. Arguably, unconventional tafazzin isoforms provide for the optimal balance between the increased biochemical activity of mitochondria (resulting from specific environmental or nutritional conditions) and lifespan maintenance; and the functional role of such isoforms is linked to the modification of the primary and secondary structures at their C-termini.
Copyright © 2019 Gregory A. Shilovsky et al.