Cardiolipin (CL) is synthesized from phosphatidic acid (PA) through a series of enzymatic reactions occurring at the mitochondrial inner membrane (MIM). Ups1-Mdm35 mediates PA transfer from the mitochondrial outer membrane (MOM) to the MIM in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Deletion of UPS1 leads to a ~80% decrease in the cellular CL level. However, the CL accumulation in ups1 cells is enhanced by the depletion of Ups2, which forms a protein complex with Mdm35 and mediates phosphatidylserine (PS) transfer from the MOM to the MIM for phosphatidylethanolamine (PE) synthesis by a PS decarboxylase, Psd1. In this study, we found that the accumulation of CL in ups1 cells was enhanced by deletion of not only UPS2, but also PSD1 and CHO1 encoding a PS synthase, suggesting that low PE levels in mitochondria were relevant to the enhancement of CL accumulation in ups1 cells. Furthermore, the Ups1-independent and low-level PE-enhanced CL accumulation was shown to depend on the functions of FMP30, MDM31, and MDM32. In addition, the physical interactions of Fmp30 with Mdm31 and Mdm32 were revealed. Thus, when the mitochondrial PE level is reduced, Fmp30, Mdm31, and Mdm32 seem to function cooperatively for the accumulation of CL in a UPS1-independent manner.
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