How to get rid of mitochondria: crosstalk and regulation of multiple mitophagy pathways

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Abstract

Mitochondria are indispensable cellular organelles providing ATP and numerous other essential metabolites to ensure cell survival. Reactive oxygen species (ROS), which are formed as side reactions during oxidative phosphorylation or by external agents, induce molecular damage in mitochondrial proteins, lipids/membranes and DNA. To cope with this and other sorts of organellar stress, a multi-level quality control system exists to maintain cellular homeostasis. One critical level of mitochondrial quality control is the removal of damaged mitochondria by mitophagy. This process utilizes parts of the general autophagy machinery, e.g. for the formation of autophagosomes but also employs mitophagy-specific factors. Depending on the proteins utilized mitophagy is divided into receptor-mediated and ubiquitin-mediated mitophagy. So far, at least seven receptor proteins are known to be required for mitophagy under different experimental conditions. In contrast to receptor-mediated pathways, the Pink-Parkin-dependent pathway is currently the best characterized ubiquitin-mediated pathway. Recently two additional ubiquitin-mediated pathways with distinctive similarities and differences were unraveled. We will summarize the current state of knowledge about these multiple pathways, explain their mechanism, and describe the regulation and crosstalk between these pathways. Finally, we will review recent evidence for the evolutionary conservation of ubiquitin-mediated mitophagy pathways.

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