Mitochondrial fatty acid synthesis (mtFAS) is a highly conserved pathway essential for mitochondrial biogenesis. The mtFAS process is required for mitochondrial respiratory chain assembly and function, synthesis of the lipoic acid cofactor indispensable for the function of several mitochondrial enzyme complexes and essential for embryonic development in mice. Mutations in human mtFAS have been reported to lead to neurodegenerative disease. The source of malonyl-CoA for mtFAS in mammals has remained unclear. We report the identification of a conserved vertebrate mitochondrial isoform of ACC1 expressed from an ACACA transcript splicing variant. A specific knockdown (KD) of the corresponding transcript in mouse cells, or CRISPR/Cas9-mediated inactivation of the putative mitochondrial targeting sequence in human cells, leads to decreased lipoylation and mitochondrial fragmentation. Simultaneous KD of ACSF3, encoding a mitochondrial malonyl-CoA synthetase previously implicated in the mtFAS process, resulted in almost complete ablation of protein lipoylation, indicating that these enzymes have a redundant function in mtFAS. The discovery of a mitochondrial isoform of ACC1 required for lipoic acid synthesis has intriguing consequences for our understanding of mitochondrial disorders, metabolic regulation of mitochondrial biogenesis and cancer.

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