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Deshwal, S., Onishi, M., Tatsuta, T., Bartsch, T., Cors, E., Ried, K., Lemke, L., Nolte, H., Giavalisco, P. & Langer, T.


Coenzyme Q (or ubiquinone) is a redox-active lipid that serves as universal electron carrier in the mitochondrial respiratory chain and antioxidant in the plasma membrane limiting lipid peroxidation and ferroptosis. Mechanisms allowing cellular coenzyme Q distribution after synthesis within mitochondria are not understood. Here we identify the cytosolic lipid transfer protein STARD7 as a critical factor of intracellular coenzyme Q transport and suppressor of ferroptosis. Dual localization of STARD7 to the intermembrane space of mitochondria and the cytosol upon cleavage by the rhomboid protease PARL ensures the synthesis of coenzyme Q in mitochondria and its transport to the plasma membrane. While mitochondrial STARD7 preserves coenzyme Q synthesis, oxidative phosphorylation function and cristae morphogenesis, cytosolic STARD7 is required for the transport of coenzyme Q to the plasma membrane and protects against ferroptosis. A coenzyme Q variant competes with phosphatidylcholine for binding to purified STARD7 in vitro. Overexpression of cytosolic STARD7 increases ferroptotic resistance of the cells, but limits coenzyme Q abundance in mitochondria and respiratory cell growth. Our findings thus demonstrate the need to coordinate coenzyme Q synthesis and cellular distribution by PARL-mediated STARD7 processing and identify PARL and STARD7 as promising targets to interfere with ferroptosis.

Read more at Nat Cell Biol (2023)