The dynamin superfamily of large GTPases has been implicated in a variety of distinct intracellular membrane remodeling events. One of these family members, DLP1/Drp1, is similar to conventional dynamins as it contains an N-terminal GTPase domain followed by a middle region (MID), an unconserved region (UC), and a coiled-coil (CC) domain. DLP1 has been shown to function in membrane-based processes distinct from conventional dynamin, most notably mitochondrial fission. In this study, we tested whether the functional specificities of DLP1 and dynamin stems from differences in the individual domains of these proteins by generating dynamin/DLP1 chimeras in which correlate domains had been interchanged. Here we report that three consecutive C-terminal domains of DLP1 (MID-UC-CC) contain information necessary for DLP1-specific function and removing any one of these domains results in a loss of DLP1 function. Importantly, the coiled-coil (CC) domain of DLP1 alone targets specifically and exclusively to mitochondria, implicating its involvement in localizing DLP1 to this organelle in vivo. The mitochondrial targeting information within the DLP1 CC domain is not sufficient to retarget dynamin to mitochondria but is still able to adequately function as an assembly domain in a dynamin background. These data suggest that whereas the GTPase domain of DLP1 provides an enzymatic function, other domains contain information for inter-molecular assembly and mitochondrial targeting.
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