Absence of Cardiolipin From the Outer Leaflet of a Mitochondrial Inner Membrane Mimic Restricts Opa1-Mediated Fusion

Front Mol Biosci. 2021 Dec 22:8:769135. doi: 10.3389/fmolb.2021.769135. eCollection 2021.


Cardiolipin is a tetra-acylated di-phosphatidylglycerol lipid enriched in the matrix-facing (inner) leaflet of the mitochondrial inner membrane. Cardiolipin plays an important role in regulating mitochondria function and dynamics. Yet, the mechanisms connecting cardiolipin distribution and mitochondrial protein function remain indirect. In our previous work, we established an in vitro system reconstituting mitochondrial inner membrane fusion mediated by Opa1. We found that the long form of Opa1 (l-Opa1) works together with the proteolytically processed short form (s-Opa1) to mediate fast and efficient membrane fusion. Here, we extend our reconstitution system to generate supported lipid bilayers with asymmetric cardiolipin distribution. Using this system, we find the presence of cardiolipin on the inter-membrane space-facing (outer) leaflet is important for membrane tethering and fusion. We discuss how the presence of cardiolipin in this leaflet may influence protein and membrane properties, and future applications for this approach.

Keywords: OPA1; cardiolipin; membrane asymmetry; membrane heterogeneity; mitochondrial fusion.