Posttranslational modification of mitochondrial proteins

Posttranslational modification of mitochondrial proteins

Lysine acetylation (AcK), a posttranslational modification wherein a two-carbon acetyl group binds covalently to a lysine residue, occurs prominently on mitochondrial proteins and has been linked to metabolic dysfunction.

An emergent theory suggests mitochondrial AcK occurs via mass action rather than targeted catalysis. To test this hypothesis, researchers performed mass spectrometry-based acetylproteomic analyses of quadriceps muscles from mice with skeletal muscle-specific deficiency of carnitine acetyltransferase (CrAT), an enzyme that buffers the mitochondrial acetyl-CoA pool by converting short-chain acyl-CoAs to their membrane permeant acylcarnitine counterparts.

CrAT deficiency increased tissue acetyl-CoA levels and susceptibility to diet-induced AcK of broad-ranging mitochondrial proteins, coincident with diminished whole body glucose control.

Sub-compartment acetylproteome analyses of muscles from obese mice and humans showed remarkable overrepresentation of mitochondrial matrix proteins.

These findings reveal roles for CrAT and L-carnitine in modulating the muscle acetylproteome and provide strong experimental evidence favoring the nonenzymatic carbon pressure model of mitochondrial AcK.