Diabetes profoundly alters fuel metabolism; both insulin deficiency and insulin resistance are characterized by inefficient mitochondrial coupling and excessive production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) despite their association with normal to high oxygen consumption. Altered mitochondrial function in diabetes can be traced to insulin’s pivotal role in maintaining mitochondrial proteome abundance and quality by enhancing mitochondrial biogenesis and preventing proteome damage and degradation, respectively. Although insulin enhances gene transcription, it also induces decreases in amino acids. Thus, if amino acid depletion is not corrected, increased transcription will not result in enhanced translation of transcripts to proteins. Mitochondrial biology varies among tissues, and although most studies in humans are performed in skeletal muscle, abnormalities have been reported in multiple organs in preclinical models of diabetes. Nutrient excess, especially fat excess, alters mitochondrial physiology by driving excess ROS emission that impairs insulin action. Excessive ROS irreversibly damages DNA and proteome with adverse effects on cellular functions. In insulin-resistant people, aerobic exercise stimulates both mitochondrial biogenesis and efficiency concurrent with enhancement of insulin action. This Review discusses the association between both insulin-deficient and insulin-resistant diabetes and alterations in mitochondrial proteome homeostasis and function that adversely affect cellular functions, likely contributing to many diabetic complications.


Gregory N. Ruegsegger, Ana L. Creo, Tiffany M. Cortes, Surendra Dasari, K. Sreekumaran Nair


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