Journal of Molecular Medicine

, Volume 97, Issue 2, pp 269–279 | Cite as

Overexpression of branched-chain amino acid aminotransferases rescues the growth defects of cells lacking the Barth syndrome-related gene TAZ1

  • Diana Antunes
  • Arpita Chowdhury
  • Abhishek Aich
  • Sreedivya Saladi
  • Nofar Harpaz
  • Mark Stahl
  • Maya Schuldiner
  • Johannes M. Herrmann
  • Peter Rehling
  • Doron RapaportEmail author
Original Article


The yeast protein Taz1 is the orthologue of human Tafazzin, a phospholipid acyltransferase involved in cardiolipin (CL) remodeling via a monolyso CL (MLCL) intermediate. Mutations in Tafazzin lead to Barth syndrome (BTHS), a metabolic and neuromuscular disorder that primarily affects the heart, muscles, and immune system. Similar to observations in fibroblasts and platelets from patients with BTHS or from animal models, abolishing yeast Taz1 results in decreased total CL amounts, increased levels of MLCL, and mitochondrial dysfunction. However, the biochemical mechanisms underlying the mitochondrial dysfunction in BTHS remain unclear. To better understand the pathomechanism of BTHS, we searched for multi-copy suppressors of the taz1Δ growth defect in yeast cells. We identified the branched-chain amino acid transaminases (BCATs) Bat1 and Bat2 as such suppressors. Similarly, overexpression of the mitochondrial isoform BCAT2 in mammalian cells lacking TAZ improves their growth. Elevated levels of Bat1 or Bat2 did not restore the reduced membrane potential, altered stability of respiratory complexes, or the defective accumulation of MLCL species in yeast taz1Δ cells. Importantly, supplying yeast or mammalian cells lacking TAZ1 with certain amino acids restored their growth behavior. Hence, our findings suggest that the metabolism of amino acids has an important and disease-relevant role in cells lacking Taz1 function.

Key messages

  • Bat1 and Bat2 are multi-copy suppressors of retarded growth of taz1Δ yeast cells.

  • Overexpression of Bat1/2 in taz1Δ cells does not rescue known mitochondrial defects.

  • Supplementation of amino acids enhances growth of cells lacking Taz1 or Tafazzin.

  • Altered metabolism of amino acids might be involved in the pathomechanism of BTSH.


Barth syndrome Cardiolipin Mitochondria Tafazzin/TAZ1 



We thank E. Kracker for excellent technical assistance, Dr. R. Lill for antibodies, and Dr. K.S. Dimmer for helpful discussions.

Funding information

This work was supported by the Barth Syndrome Foundation (D.R. and M.S.), the DFG D.I.P. program (D.R., J.M.H., and M.S.), SFB1002 (TP A06, PR), ERC (ERCAdG No. 339580, PR), MWK FoP 88b (PR), and the Max Planck Society (PR). D.A. was supported by the IMPRS “From Molecules to Organisms.”

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that there is no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

109_2018_1728_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (768 kb)
ESM 1 (PDF 767 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Diana Antunes
    • 1
  • Arpita Chowdhury
    • 2
  • Abhishek Aich
    • 2
  • Sreedivya Saladi
    • 3
  • Nofar Harpaz
    • 4
  • Mark Stahl
    • 5
  • Maya Schuldiner
    • 4
  • Johannes M. Herrmann
    • 3
  • Peter Rehling
    • 2
    • 6
    • 7
  • Doron Rapaport
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Interfaculty Institute of BiochemistryUniversity of TübingenTübingenGermany
  2. 2.Department of Cellular BiochemistryUniversity Medical Center GöttingenGöttingenGermany
  3. 3.Cell BiologyUniversity of KaiserslauternKaiserslauternGermany
  4. 4.Department of Molecular GeneticsWeizmann Institute of ScienceRehovotIsrael
  5. 5.Center for Plant Molecular Biology (ZMBP)University of TübingenTübingenGermany
  6. 6.Göttingen Centre for Molecular BiosciencesGeorg-August-UniversityGöttingenGermany
  7. 7.Max Planck Institute for Biophysical ChemistryGöttingenGermany

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