Prohibitin levels regulate OMA1 activity and turnover in neurons

Cell Death Differ. 2020 Jun;27(6):1896-1906. doi: 10.1038/s41418-019-0469-4. Epub 2019 Dec 9.


The GTPase OPA1 and the AAA-protease OMA1 serve well-established roles in mitochondrial stress responses and mitochondria-initiated cell death. In addition to its role in mitochondrial membrane fusion, cristae structure, and bioenergetic function, OPA1 controls apoptosis by sequestering cytochrome c (cyt c) in mitochondrial cristae. Cleavage of functional long OPA1 (L-OPA1) isoforms by OMA1 inactivates mitochondrial fusion and primes apoptosis. OPA1 cleavage is regulated by the prohibitin (PHB) complex, a heteromeric, ring-shaped mitochondrial inner membrane scaffolding complex composed of PHB1 and PHB2. In neurons, PHB plays a protective role against various stresses, and PHB deletion destabilizes OPA1 causing neurodegeneration. While deletion of OMA1 prevents OPA1 destabilization and attenuates neurodegeneration in PHB2 KO mice, how PHB levels regulate OMA1 is still unknown. Here, we investigate the effects of modulating neuronal PHB levels on OMA1 stability and OPA1 cleavage. We demonstrate that PHB promotes OMA1 turnover, effectively decreasing the pool of OMA1. Further, we show that OMA1 binds to cardiolipin (CL), a major mitochondrial phospholipid. CL binding promotes OMA1 turnover, as we show that deleting the CL-binding domain of OMA1 decreases its turnover rate. Since PHB is known to stabilize CL, these data suggest that PHB modulates OMA1 through CL. Furthermore, we show that PHB decreases cyt c release induced by tBID and attenuates caspase 9 activation in response to hypoxic stress in neurons. Taken together, our results suggest that PHB-mediated CL stabilization regulates stress responses and cell death through OMA1 turnover and cyt c release.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis
  • GTP Phosphohydrolases / metabolism*
  • Metalloproteases / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Mitochondrial Proteins / metabolism*
  • Neurons* / cytology
  • Neurons* / metabolism
  • PC12 Cells
  • Prohibitins
  • Rats
  • Repressor Proteins / physiology*


  • Mitochondrial Proteins
  • Phb protein, rat
  • Phb2 protein, mouse
  • Prohibitins
  • Repressor Proteins
  • Metalloproteases
  • OMA1 protein, mouse
  • GTP Phosphohydrolases
  • Opa1 protein, mouse