Heart and Circulatory Physiology

Cardiac mitochondrial matrix and respiratory complex protein phosphorylation

Raul Covian, Robert S. Balaban


It has become appreciated over the last several years that protein phosphorylation within the cardiac mitochondrial matrix and respiratory complexes is extensive. Given the importance of oxidative phosphorylation and the balance of energy metabolism in the heart, the potential regulatory effect of these classical signaling events on mitochondrial function is of interest. However, the functional impact of protein phosphorylation and the kinase/phosphatase system responsible for it are relatively unknown. Exceptions include the well-characterized pyruvate dehydrogenase and branched chain α-ketoacid dehydrogenase regulatory system. The first task of this review is to update the current status of protein phosphorylation detection primarily in the matrix and evaluate evidence linking these events with enzymatic function or protein processing. To manage the scope of this effort, we have focused on the pathways involved in energy metabolism. The high sensitivity of modern methods of detecting protein phosphorylation and the low specificity of many kinases suggests that detection of protein phosphorylation sites without information on the mole fraction of phosphorylation is difficult to interpret, especially in metabolic enzymes, and is likely irrelevant to function. However, several systems including protein translocation, adenine nucleotide translocase, cytochrome c, and complex IV protein phosphorylation have been well correlated with enzymatic function along with the classical dehydrogenase systems. The second task is to review the current understanding of the kinase/phosphatase system within the matrix. Though it is clear that protein phosphorylation occurs within the matrix, based on 32P incorporation and quantitative mass spectrometry measures, the kinase/phosphatase system responsible for this process is ill-defined. An argument is presented that remnants of the much more labile bacterial protein phosphoryl transfer system may be present in the matrix and that the evaluation of this possibility will require the application of approaches developed for bacterial cell signaling to the mitochondria.

  • kinase
  • phosphatase
  • citric acid cycle
  • oxidative phosphorylation
  • protein transport
  • mitochondria intermembrane space
  • phosphohistidine
  • adenine nucleotide translocase
  • pyruvate dehydrogenase
  • branched chain α-ketoacid dehydrogenase
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