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Eur J Cell Biol. 2011 Apr;90(4):342-55. doi: 10.1016/j.ejcb.2010.10.012. Epub 2010 Dec 4.

The Ras related GTPase Miro is not required for mitochondrial transport in Dictyostelium discoideum.

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Zentrum für Biochemie, Medizinische Fakultät, Universität zu Köln, Joseph-Stelzmann-Strasse 52, 50931 Köln, Germany.


Ras-related GTPases of the Miro family have been implicated in mitochondrial homeostasis and microtubule-dependent transport. They consist of two GTP-binding domains separated by calcium-binding motifs and of a C-terminal transmembrane domain that targets the protein to the outer mitochondrial membrane. We disrupted the single Miro-encoding gene in Dictyostelium discoideum and observed a substantial growth defect that we attribute to a decreased mitochondrial mass and cellular ATP content. However, mutant cells even showed an increased rate of oxygen consumption, while glucose consumption, mitochondrial transmembrane potential and production of reactive oxygen species were unaltered. Processes characteristic of the multicellular stage of the D. discoideum life cycle were also unaltered. Although mitochondria occasionally use microtubules for transport in D. discoideum, their size and distribution were not visibly affected. We found Miro in all branches of the eukaryotic tree with the exception of a few protist lineages (mainly those lacking typical mitochondria). Trypanosomatids and ciliates possess structurally unique homologs lacking the N-terminal or the C-terminal GTPase domain, respectively. We propose that in D. discoideum, as in yeasts and plants, Miro plays roles in mitochondrial homeostasis, but the ability to build a complex that regulates its association to kinesin for microtubule-dependent transport probably arose in metazoans.

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