The mitochondrial pyruvate carrier at the crossroads of intermediary metabolism

Nicole K.H. Yiew, Brian N. Finck

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Pyruvate metabolism, a central nexus of carbon homeostasis, is an evolutionarily conserved process and aberrant pyruvate metabolism is associated with and contributes to numerous human metabolic disorders including diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. As a product of glycolysis, pyruvate is primarily generated in the cytosol before being transported into the mitochondrion for further metabolism. Pyruvate entry into the mitochondrial matrix is a critical step for efficient generation of reducing equivalents and ATP and for the biosynthesis of glucose, fatty acids, and amino acids from pyruvate. However, for many years, the identity of the carrier protein(s) that transported pyruvate into the mitochondrial matrix remained a mystery. In 2012, the molecular-genetic identification of the mitochondrial pyruvate carrier (MPC), a heterodimeric complex composed of protein subunits MPC1 and MPC2, enabled studies that shed light on the many metabolic and physiological processes regulated by pyruvate metabolism. A better understanding of the mechanisms regulating pyruvate transport and the processes affected by pyruvate metabolism may enable novel therapeutics to modulate mitochondrial pyruvate flux to treat a variety of disorders. Herein, we review our current knowledge of the MPC, discuss recent advances in the understanding of mitochondrial pyruvate metabolism in various tissue and cell types, and address some of the outstanding questions relevant to this field.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E33-E52
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2022


  • adipose tissue
  • heart
  • liver
  • mitochondrion
  • pyruvate


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