Glycerol-3-phosphate acyltransferase (GPAT) is involved in the first step in glycerolipid synthesis and is localized in both the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and mitochondria. To clarify the functional differences between ER-GPAT and mitochondrial (Mt)-GPAT, we generated both GPAT mutants in C. elegans and demonstrated that Mt-GPAT is essential for mitochondrial fusion. Mutation of Mt-GPAT caused excessive mitochondrial fragmentation. The defect was rescued by injection of lysophosphatidic acid (LPA), a direct product of GPAT, and by inhibition of LPA acyltransferase, both of which lead to accumulation of LPA in the cells. Mitochondrial fragmentation in Mt-GPAT mutants was also rescued by inhibition of mitochondrial fission protein DRP-1 and by overexpression of mitochondrial fusion protein FZO-1/mitofusin, suggesting that the fusion/fission balance is affected by Mt-GPAT depletion. Mitochondrial fragmentation was also observed in Mt-GPAT-depleted HeLa cells. A mitochondrial fusion assay using HeLa cells revealed that Mt-GPAT depletion impaired mitochondrial fusion process. We postulate from these results that LPA produced by Mt-GPAT functions not only as a precursor for glycerolipid synthesis but also as an essential factor of mitochondrial fusion.
- C. elegans
- glycerol-3-phosphate acyltransferase
- lysophosphatidic acid