SUCLG1 restricts POLRMT succinylation to enhance mitochondrial biogenesis and leukemia progression

EMBO J. 2024 Apr 22. doi: 10.1038/s44318-024-00101-9. Online ahead of print.


Mitochondria are cellular powerhouses that generate energy through the electron transport chain (ETC). The mitochondrial genome (mtDNA) encodes essential ETC proteins in a compartmentalized manner, however, the mechanism underlying metabolic regulation of mtDNA function remains unknown. Here, we report that expression of tricarboxylic acid cycle enzyme succinate-CoA ligase SUCLG1 strongly correlates with ETC genes across various TCGA cancer transcriptomes. Mechanistically, SUCLG1 restricts succinyl-CoA levels to suppress the succinylation of mitochondrial RNA polymerase (POLRMT). Lysine 622 succinylation disrupts the interaction of POLRMT with mtDNA and mitochondrial transcription factors. SUCLG1-mediated POLRMT hyposuccinylation maintains mtDNA transcription, mitochondrial biogenesis, and leukemia cell proliferation. Specifically, leukemia-promoting FMS-like tyrosine kinase 3 (FLT3) mutations modulate nuclear transcription and upregulate SUCLG1 expression to reduce succinyl-CoA and POLRMT succinylation, resulting in enhanced mitobiogenesis. In line, genetic depletion of POLRMT or SUCLG1 significantly delays disease progression in mouse and humanized leukemia models. Importantly, succinyl-CoA level and POLRMT succinylation are downregulated in FLT3-mutated clinical leukemia samples, linking enhanced mitobiogenesis to cancer progression. Together, SUCLG1 connects succinyl-CoA with POLRMT succinylation to modulate mitochondrial function and cancer development.

Keywords: FMS-like Tyrosine Kinase 3; Lysine Succinylation; Mitochondrial Biogenesis; Mitochondrial RNA Polymerase; Succinate-CoA Ligase.