Mitochondrial fusion occurs in many eukaryotes, including animals, plants, and fungi. It is essential for cellular homeostasis, and yet the underlying mechanisms remain elusive. Comparative analyses and phylogenetic reconstructions revealed that fungal Fzo1 and animal Mitofusin proteins are highly diverged from one another and lack strong sequence similarity. Bioinformatic analysis showed that fungal Fzo1 proteins exhibit two predicted transmembrane domains, whereas metazoan Mitofusins contain only a single transmembrane domain. This prediction contradicts the current models, suggesting that both animal and fungal proteins share one topology. This newly predicted topology of Mfn1 and Mfn2 was demonstrated biochemically, confirming that the C-terminal, redox-sensitive cysteine residues reside within the intermembrane space (IMS). Functional experiments established that redox-mediated disulfide modifications within the IMS domain are key modulators of reversible Mfn oligomerization that drives fusion. Together, these results lead to a revised understanding of Mfns as single-spanning outer membrane proteins with an Nout-Cin orientation, providing functional insight into the IMS contribution to redox-regulated fusion events.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cell Biology