Dynamic PGAM5 multimers dephosphorylate BCL-xL or FUNDC1 to regulate mitochondrial and cellular fate
Mitochondria are highly dynamic organelles and respond to stress by changing their fission-fusion cycle, undergoing mitophagy, or releasing apoptotic proteins to initiate cell death. The molecular mechanisms that sense different stresses and coordinate distinct effectors still await full characterization. Here, we show that PGAM5, which exists in an equilibrium between dimeric and multimeric states, dephosphorylates BCL-xL to inhibit apoptosis or FUNDC1 to activate mitofission and mitophagy in response to distinct stresses. In vinblastine-treated cells, PGAM5 dephosphorylates BCL-xL at Ser62 to restore BCL-xL sequestration of BAX and BAK and thereby resistance to apoptosis. Selenite-induced oxidative stress increases the multimerization of PGAM5, resulting in its dissociation from BCL-xL, which causes increased BCL-xL phosphorylation and apoptosis. Once freed, the more multimeric and active PGAM5 dephosphorylates FUNDC1 to initiate mitofission and mitophagy. The reciprocal interaction of PGAM5 with FUNDC1 and BCL-xL, controlled by PGAM5 multimerization, serves as a molecular switch between mitofission/mitophagy and apoptosis.