Mitochondrial NM23-H4/NDPK-D: a bifunctional nanoswitch for bioenergetics and lipid signaling Academic Article uri icon

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  • A novel paradigm for the function of the mitochondrial nucleoside diphosphate kinase NM23-H4/NDPK-D is proposed: acting as a bifunctional nanoswitch in bioenergetics and cardiolipin (CL) trafficking and signaling. Similar to some other mitochondrial proteins like cytochrome c or AIF, NM23-H4 seems to have dual functions in bioenergetics and apoptotic signaling. In its bioenergetic phosphotransfer mode, the kinase reversibly phosphorylates NDPs into NTPs, driven by mitochondrially generated ATP. Among others, this reaction can locally supply GTP to mitochondrial GTPases as shown for the dynamin-like GTPase OPA1, found in a complex together with NM23-H4. Further, NM23-H4 is functionally coupled to adenylate translocase (ANT) of the mitochondrial inner membrane (MIM), so generated ADP can stimulate respiration to rapidly regenerate ATP. The lipid transfer mode of NM23-H4 can support, dependent on the presence of CL, the transfer of anionic lipids between membranes in vitro and the sorting of CL from its mitochondrial sites of synthesis (MIM) to the mitochondrial outer membrane (MOM) in vivo. Such (partial) collapse of MIM/MOM CL asymmetry results in CL externalization on the mitochondrial surface, where CL can serve as pro-apoptotic or pro-mitophagic "eat me"-signal. The functional state of NM23-H4 depends on its degree of CL-membrane interaction. In vitro assays have shown that only NM23-H4 that fully cross-links two membranes is lipid transfer competent, but at the same time phosphotransfer (kinase) inactive. Thus, the two functions of NM23-H4 seem to be mutually exclusive. This novel mitochondrial regulatory circuit has potential for the development of interventions in various human pathologies.


  • Schlattner, Uwe
  • Tokarska-Schlattner, Malgorzata
  • Epand, Richard
  • Boissan, Mathieu
  • Lacombe, Marie-Lise
  • Klein-Seetharaman, Judith
  • Kagan, Valerian E

publication date

  • February 2015