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Cross-Communication between Succinate Dehydrogenase and Fatty Acid Biosynthesis

Fatty acid biosynthesis is mainly known as a cytosolic process carried out by the fatty acid synthase (FASN). FASN is a very large enzyme with several catalytic subunits that perform sequential enzymatic reactions to produce palmitic acid (PA) from Malony CoA. Malonyl CoA itself is produced from acetyl CoA, which originates from the mitochondria. PA serves for generating membranes or steroids and hormones. Additionally, PA can be used for lipid storage or as a signal molecule or can be converted back into citrate, which is transported to the mitochondria for ATP production via β oxidation. The mitochondrial production of fatty acids however is less well appreciated. Several independent mitochondrial proteins, each having homologies with one of the FASN subunits, synthetise lipoic acid from malonyl CoA. Unlike PA, lipoic acid is not used for the formation of membranes. Lipoic acid is a crucial regulatory cofactor of mitochondrial metabolic enzymes, the dehydrogenases, and plays an important role in regulating the biogenesis of the respiratory chain according to the available acetyl CoA pools.We found that a new FASN inhibitor inhibits not only FASN but also the succinate dehydrogenase (SDH)/respiratory chain complex II, and induces cell death in cancer cells through this dual inhibition. However, it is mechanistically not clear how pharmacological inhibition of cytosolic FASN inhibits mitochondrial SDH. Our hypothesis is that the cytosolic and the mitochondrial fatty acid synthesis interact with each other and that this interaction regulates the SDH activity. The aim of the project is therefore to investigate whether the FASN inhibitor also suppresses the mitochondrial fatty acid biogenesis and whether mitochondrial fatty acid biogenesis coordinates the assembly of SDH, which consists of four subunits. An additional aim is to identify which proteins or metabolites of cytosolic and mitochondrial fatty acid biosynthesis communicate with each other.So far, only cytosolic fatty acid synthesis has been attributed a role in cancer because FASN is upregulated in cancer cells. The discovery of interorganellar communication between the two fatty acid biosynthesis systems would be completely new and possibly reveal a new role of mitochondrial fatty acid synthesis in tumors.
Project leader
Nowikovsky Karin
FWF Einzelprojekte
Type of Research
Basic research
Vetmed Research Units
Institute of Physiology, Pathohysiology and Biophysics, Unit of Physiology and Biophysics
Projekt partner
Contact: Christopher Gerner
Universität Wien, Universitätsring 1, 1010 Wien, Austria
Funded by
FWF - Fonds zur Förderung der wissenschaftlichen Forschung, Sensengasse 1, 1090 Wien, Austria

Link To Project Finder

Austin, S; Nowikovsky, K (2021): Mitochondrial osmoregulation in evolution, cation transport and metabolism. Biochim Biophys Acta Bioenerg. 2021; 148368
[Article in Press]

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