Substantial Decrease in Plasmalogen in the Heart Associated with Tafazzin Deficiency
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Tafazzin is the mitochondrial enzyme that catalyzes transacylation between a phospholipid and a lysophospholipid in remodeling. Mutations in tafazzin cause Barth syndrome, a potentially life-threatening disease with the major symptom being cardiomyopathy. In the tafazzin-deficient heart, cardiolipin (CL) acyl chains become abnormally heterogeneous unlike those in the normal heart with a single dominant linoleoyl species, tetralinoleoyl CL. In addition, the amount of CL decreases and monolysocardiolipin (MLCL) accumulates. Here we determine using high-resolution 31P nuclear magnetic resonance with cryoprobe technology the fundamental phospholipid composition, including the major but oxidation-labile plasmalogens, in the tafazzin-knockdown (TAZ-KD) mouse heart as a model of Barth syndrome. In addition to confirming a lower level of CL (6.4 ± 0.1 → 2.0 ± 0.4 mol % of the total phospholipid) and accumulation of MLCL (not detected → 3.3 ± 0.5 mol %) in the TAZ-KD, we found a substantial reduction in the level of plasmenylcholine (30.8 ± 2.8 → 18.1 ± 3.1 mol %), the most abundant phospholipid in the control wild type. A quantitative Western blot revealed that while the level of peroxisomes, where early steps of plasmalogen synthesis take place, was normal in the TAZ-KD model, expression of Far1 as a rate-determining enzyme in plasmalogen synthesis was dramatically upregulated by 8.3 (±1.6)-fold to accelerate the synthesis in response to the reduced level of plasmalogen. We confirmed lyso-plasmenylcholine or plasmenylcholine is a substrate of purified tafazzin for transacylation with CL or MLCL, respectively. Our results suggest that plasmenylcholine, abundant in linoleoyl species, is important in remodeling CL in the heart. Tafazzin deficiency thus has a major impact on the cardiac plasmenylcholine level and thereby its functions.
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