Congratulations to Jun Zhang, PhD and the Shi Lab on their publication in Autophagy!

The paper is titled “Restoration of Mitophagy Ameliorates Cardiomyopathy in Barth Syndrome” by Jun Zhang, Xueling Liu, Jia Nie, and Yuguang Shi. Dr. Zhang is an Instructor/Research in the lab of Dr. Yuguang Shi with the Sam and Ann Barshop Institute for Longevity and Aging Studies and the Department of Pharmacology.


Barth syndrome (BTHS) is an X-linked genetic disorder caused by mutations in the TAFAZZIN/Taz gene which encodes a transacylase required for cardiolipin remodeling. Cardiolipin is a mitochondrial signature phospholipid that plays a pivotal role in maintaining mitochondrial membrane structure, respiration, mtDNA biogenesis, and mitophagy. Mutations in the TAFAZZIN gene deplete mature cardiolipin, leading to mitochondrial dysfunction, dilated cardiomyopathy, and premature death in BTHS patients. Currently, there is no effective treatment for this debilitating condition. In this study, we showed that TAFAZZIN deficiency caused hyperactivation of MTORC1 signaling and defective mitophagy, leading to accumulation of autophagic vacuoles and dysfunctional mitochondria in the heart of Tafazzin knockdown mice, a rodent model of BTHS. Consequently, treatment of TAFAZZIN knockdown mice with rapamycin, a potent inhibitor of MTORC1, not only restored mitophagy, but also mitigated mitochondrial dysfunction and dilated cardiomyopathy. Taken together, these findings identify MTORC1 as a novel therapeutic target for BTHS, suggesting that pharmacological restoration of mitophagy may provide a novel treatment for BTHS.

Autophagy. Available online: 05 January 2022.

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