Deficient Endoplasmic Reticulum-Mitochondrial Phosphatidylserine Transfer Causes Liver Disease

María Isabel Hernández-Alvarez (Corresponding Author), David Sebastián, Sara Vives, Saška Ivanova, Paola Bartoccioni, Pamela Kakimoto, Natalia Plana, Sónia R. Veiga, Vanessa Hernández, Nuno Vasconcelos, Gopal Peddinti, Anna Adrover, Mariona Jové, Reinald Pamplona, Isabel Gordaliza-Alaguero, Enrique Calvo, Noemí Cabré, Rui Castro, Antonija Kuzmanic, Marie BoutantDavid Sala, Tuulia Hyotylainen, Matej Orešič, Joana Fort, Ekaitz Errasti-Murugarren, Cecilia M.P. Rodrígues, Modesto Orozco, Jorge Joven, Carles Cantó, Manuel Palacin, Sonia Fernández-Veledo, Joan Vendrell, Antonio Zorzano (Corresponding Author)

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

    200 Citations (Scopus)


    Non-alcoholic fatty liver is the most common liver disease worldwide. Here, we show that the mitochondrial protein mitofusin 2 (Mfn2) protects against liver disease. Reduced Mfn2 expression was detected in liver biopsies from patients with non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). Moreover, reduced Mfn2 levels were detected in mouse models of steatosis or NASH, and its re-expression in a NASH mouse model ameliorated the disease. Liver-specific ablation of Mfn2 in mice provoked inflammation, triglyceride accumulation, fibrosis, and liver cancer. We demonstrate that Mfn2 binds phosphatidylserine (PS) and can specifically extract PS into membrane domains, favoring PS transfer to mitochondria and mitochondrial phosphatidylethanolamine (PE) synthesis. Consequently, hepatic Mfn2 deficiency reduces PS transfer and phospholipid synthesis, leading to endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress and the development of a NASH-like phenotype and liver cancer. Ablation of Mfn2 in liver reveals that disruption of ER-mitochondrial PS transfer is a new mechanism involved in the development of liver disease. The mitochondrial protein mitofusin 2 binds and transfers phosphatidylserine across mitochondria-ER contacts, and perturbation of this process leads to aberrant lipid metabolism and liver diseases like NASH, NAFLD, and cancer.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)881-895.e17
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 2 May 2019
    MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


    • MAMs
    • Mfn2
    • mitochondria
    • NASH
    • phosphatidylserine
    • phospholipid transfer


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