bims-midneu Biomed News
on Mitochondrial dysfunction in neurodegeneration
Issue of 2021‒03‒28
twenty-six papers selected by
Radha Desai
Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp.

  1. Nat Commun. 2021 03 22. 12(1): 1807
      Mitochondria-lysosome contacts are recently identified sites for mediating crosstalk between both organelles, but their role in normal and diseased human neurons remains unknown. In this study, we demonstrate that mitochondria-lysosome contacts can dynamically form in the soma, axons, and dendrites of human neurons, allowing for their bidirectional crosstalk. Parkinson's disease patient derived neurons harboring mutant GBA1 exhibited prolonged mitochondria-lysosome contacts due to defective modulation of the untethering protein TBC1D15, which mediates Rab7 GTP hydrolysis for contact untethering. This dysregulation was due to decreased GBA1 (β-glucocerebrosidase (GCase)) lysosomal enzyme activity in patient derived neurons, and could be rescued by increasing enzyme activity with a GCase modulator. These defects resulted in disrupted mitochondrial distribution and function, and could be further rescued by TBC1D15 in Parkinson's patient derived GBA1-linked neurons. Together, our work demonstrates a potential role of mitochondria-lysosome contacts as an upstream regulator of mitochondrial function and dynamics in midbrain dopaminergic neurons in GBA1-linked Parkinson's disease.
  2. Autophagy. 2021 Mar 23.
      Mitochondria are the main cellular energy powerhouses and supply most of the energy in the form of ATP to fuel essential neuronal functions through oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS). In Alzheimer disease (AD), metabolic and mitochondrial disruptions are an early feature preceding any histopathological and clinical manifestations. Mitochondrial malfunction is also linked to synaptic defects in early AD. Mitophagy serves as a key cellular quality control mechanism involving sequestration of damaged mitochondria within autophagosomes and their subsequent degradation in lysosomes. However, it remains largely unknown whether mitophagy is involved in the regulation of energy metabolism in neurons, and if so, whether metabolic deficiency in AD is attributed to mitophagy dysfunction. Here we reveal that mitophagy is broadly activated in metabolically enhanced neurons upon OXPHOS stimulation, which sustains high energetic activity by increasing mitochondrial turnover and hence facilitating mitochondrial maintenance. Unexpectedly, in AD-related mutant HsAPP Tg mouse brains, early stimulation of OXPHOS activity fails to correct energy deficits but exacerbates synapse loss as a consequence of mitophagy failure. Excitingly, lysosomal enhancement in AD neurons restores impaired metabolic function by promoting elimination of damaged mitochondria, protecting against synaptic damage in AD mouse brains. Taken together, we propose a new mechanism by which mitophagy controls bioenergetic status in neurons, furthering our understanding of the direct impact of mitophagy defects on AD-linked metabolic deficits and shedding light on the development of novel therapeutic strategies to treat AD by the early stimulation of mitochondrial metabolism combined with elevation of lysosomal proteolytic activity.
    Keywords:  Alzheimer; bioenergetics; energy metabolism; lysosomal proteolysis; metabolic deficiency; mitochondrial stress; mitophagosome; neuronal mitophagy; retrograde transport; synapse loss
  3. FEBS Lett. 2021 Mar 22.
      Calcium (Ca2+ ) is a second messenger essential for cellular homeostasis. Inside the cell, Ca2+ is compartmentalized and exchanged among organelles in response to both external and internal stimuli. Mitochondria-associated membranes (MAMs) provide a platform for proteins and channels involved in Ca2+ transfer between the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and mitochondria. Deregulated Ca2+ signaling and proteins regulating ER-mitochondria interactions have been linked to liver diseases and intensively investigated in recent years. In this review, we summarize the role of MAM-resident proteins in Ca2+ transfer and their association with different liver diseases.
    Keywords:  Mitochondria-associated membranes; calcium transfer; endoplasmic reticulum; liver diseases; mitochondria
  4. BMC Biol. 2021 Mar 24. 19(1): 57
      BACKGROUND: Mitochondrial dysfunction is a common feature of aging, neurodegeneration, and metabolic diseases. Hence, mitotherapeutics may be valuable disease modifiers for a large number of conditions. In this study, we have set up a large-scale screening platform for mitochondrial-based modulators with promising therapeutic potential.RESULTS: Using differentiated human neuroblastoma cells, we screened 1200 FDA-approved compounds and identified 61 molecules that significantly increased cellular ATP without any cytotoxic effect. Following dose response curve-dependent selection, we identified the flavonoid luteolin as a primary hit. Further validation in neuronal models indicated that luteolin increased mitochondrial respiration in primary neurons, despite not affecting mitochondrial mass, structure, or mitochondria-derived reactive oxygen species. However, we found that luteolin increased contacts between mitochondria and endoplasmic reticulum (ER), contributing to increased mitochondrial calcium (Ca2+) and Ca2+-dependent pyruvate dehydrogenase activity. This signaling pathway likely contributed to the observed effect of luteolin on enhanced mitochondrial complexes I and II activities. Importantly, we observed that increased mitochondrial functions were dependent on the activity of ER Ca2+-releasing channels inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate receptors (IP3Rs) both in neurons and in isolated synaptosomes. Additionally, luteolin treatment improved mitochondrial and locomotory activities in primary neurons and Caenorhabditis elegans expressing an expanded polyglutamine tract of the huntingtin protein.
    CONCLUSION: We provide a new screening platform for drug discovery validated in vitro and ex vivo. In addition, we describe a novel mechanism through which luteolin modulates mitochondrial activity in neuronal models with potential therapeutic validity for treatment of a variety of human diseases.
    Keywords:  High-throughput screen; Luteolin; Mitochondria; Mitochondria-ER contacts; Mitochondrial calcium
  5. Clin Exp Pharmacol Physiol. 2021 Mar 22.
      Many neurodegenerative diseases are associated with pathological aggregation of proteins in neurons. Autophagy is a natural self-cannibalization process that can act as a powerful mechanism to remove aged and damaged organelles as well as protein aggregates. It has been shown that promoting autophagy can attenuate or delay neurodegeneration by removing protein aggregates. In this paper, we will review the role of autophagy in Alzheimer's disease (AD), Parkinson's Disease (PD), and Huntington's Disease (HD) and discuss opportunities and challenges of targeting autophagy as a potential therapeutic avenue for treatment of these common neurodegenerative diseases.
    Keywords:  Alzheimer’s disease (AD); Parkinson’s Disease (PD); and Huntington’s Disease (HD); autophagy; neurodegenerative disease
  6. Ir J Med Sci. 2021 Mar 22.
      BACKGROUND: Variants in PARKIN, PINK1, and DJ1 are associated with early-onset Parkinson' disease (EOPD, age-at-onset < 45). We previously reported a single PINK1 and a single DJ1 heterozygous variant carrier.PURPOSE: We aimed to expand upon our previous EOPD studies and investigate for any genotype-phenotype correlations in Irish PD.
    METHODS: Three hundred fourteen PD patients were recruited from Dublin Neurological Institute, Ireland. Genetic analysis was performed at the Mayo Clinic, Jacksonville, USA. We screened 81 patients with young-onset PD (age-at-onset < 50), of which 58 had EOPD.
    RESULTS: We identified 4 patients with homozygous/compound heterozygous variants and 3 heterozygote carriers (pathogenic PINK1/DJ1 variants were not found). Expansion of one of the pedigrees showed a novel variant in exon 9, in a symptomatic patient. We identified 6.89% PARKIN variant carriers associated with EOPD.
    CONCLUSION: These findings suggest that PINK1 and DJ1 are rarely associated with Irish YOPD, while PARKIN variant frequency is similar to that reported worldwide.
    Keywords:  DJ1; EOPD; Ireland; PINK1; Parkin; Parkinson’s disease
  7. Int Immunopharmacol. 2021 Mar 20. pii: S1567-5769(21)00162-4. [Epub ahead of print]95 107526
      Parkinson's disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disease associated with a loss of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra of the brain. Neuroinflammation, another hallmark of the disease, is thought to play an important role in the neurodegenerative process. While mitigating neuroinflammation could prove beneficial for Parkinson's disease, identifying the most relevant biological processes and pharmacological targets as well as drugs to modulate them remains highly challenging. The present study aimed to better understand the protein network behind neuroinflammation in Parkinson's disease and to prioritize possible targets for its pharmacological modulation. We first used text-mining to systematically collect the proteins significantly associated to Parkinson's disease neuroinflammation over the scientific literature. The functional interaction network formed by these proteins was then analyzed by integrating functional enrichment, network topology analysis and drug-protein interaction analysis. We identified 57 proteins significantly associated to neuroinflammation in Parkinson's disease. Toll-like Receptor Cascades as well as Interleukin 4, Interleukin 10 and Interleukin 13 signaling appeared as the most significantly enriched biological processes. Protein network analysis using STRING and CentiScaPe identified 8 proteins with the highest ability to control these biological processes underlying neuroinflammation, namely caspase 1, heme oxygenase 1, interleukin 1beta, interleukin 4, interleukin 6, interleukin 10, tumor necrosis factor alpha and toll-like receptor 4. These key proteins were indexed to be targetable by a total of 38 drugs including 27 small compounds 11 protein-based therapies. In conclusion, our study highlights key proteins in Parkinson's disease neuroinflammation as well as pharmacological compounds acting on them. As such, it may facilitate the prioritization of biomarkers for the development of diagnostic, target-engagement assessment and therapeutic tools against Parkinson's disease.
    Keywords:  Caspase 1; Cytokines; Drug discovery; Heme Oxygenase-1; Microglia; Neurodegenerative diseases; Neuroinflammation; Parkinson disease
  8. Biochim Biophys Acta Gen Subj. 2021 Mar 19. pii: S0304-4165(21)00052-0. [Epub ahead of print] 129894
      Parkin and phosphatase and tensin homolog (PTEN)-induced kinase 1 (PINK1) constitute a feed-forward signalling pathway that mediates autophagic removal of damaged mitochondria (mitophagy). With over 130 mutations identified to date in over 1000 patients with early onset parkinsonism, Parkin is considered a hot spot of signalling pathways involved in PD aetiology. Parkin is an E3 ligase and how its activity is regulated has been extensively studied: inter-domain interactions exert a tight inhibition on Parkin activity; binding to phospho-ubiquitin relieves this auto-inhibition; and phosphorylation of Parkin shifts the equilibrium towards maximal Parkin activation. This review focusses on recent, structural findings on the regulation of Parkin activity. What follows is a mechanistic introduction to the family of E3 ligases that includes Parkin, followed by a brief description of structural elements unique to Parkin that lock the enzyme in an autoinhibited state, contrasted with emerging models that have shed light on possible mechanisms of Parkin activation.
    Keywords:  Autoinhibition; E3; Parkin; RBR; Ubiquitylation
  9. Mol Biol Rep. 2021 Mar 25.
      Neurogenesis was believed to end after the period of embryonic development. However, the possibility of obtaining an expressive number of cells with functional neuronal characteristics implied a great advance in experimental research. New techniques have emerged to demonstrate that the birth of new neurons continues to occur in the adult brain. Two main rich sources of these cells are the subventricular zone (SVZ) and the subgranular zone of the hippocampal dentate gyrus (SGZ) where adult neural stem cells (aNSCs) have the ability to proliferate and differentiate into mature cell lines. The cultivation of neurospheres is a method to isolate, maintain and expand neural stem cells (NSCs) and has been used extensively by several research groups to analyze the biological properties of NSCs and their potential use in injured brains from animal models. Throughout this review, we highlight the areas where this type of cell culture has been applied and the advantages and limitations of using this model in experimental studies for the neurological clinical scenario.
    Keywords:  Cell model; Differentiation; Neural stem cell; Neurogenesis; Neurological disorders; Neurospheres
  10. Cell Rep. 2021 Mar 23. pii: S2211-1247(21)00189-3. [Epub ahead of print]34(12): 108875
      The maintenance of mitochondrial homeostasis requires PTEN-induced kinase 1 (PINK1)-dependent mitophagy, and mutations in PINK1 are associated with Parkinson's disease (PD). PINK1 is also downregulated in tumor cells with PTEN mutations. However, there is limited information concerning the role of PINK1 in tissue growth and tumorigenesis. Here, we show that the loss of pink1 caused multiple growth defects independent of its pathological target, Parkin. Moreover, knocking down pink1 in muscle cells induced hyperglycemia and limited systemic organismal growth by the induction of Imaginal morphogenesis protein-Late 2 (ImpL2). Similarly, disrupting PTEN activity in multiple tissues impaired systemic growth by reducing pink1 expression, resembling wasting-like syndrome in cancer patients. Furthermore, the re-expression of PINK1 fully rescued defects in carbohydrate metabolism and systemic growth induced by the tissue-specific pten mutations. Our data suggest a function for PINK1 in regulating systemic growth in Drosophila and shed light on its role in wasting in the context of PTEN mutations.
    Keywords:  ImpL2; PINK1; PTEN; Parkin; mitochondria
  11. BMC Genomics. 2021 Mar 24. 22(1): 211
      BACKGROUND: Early-onset familial Alzheimer's disease (EOfAD) is promoted by dominant mutations, enabling the study of Alzheimer's disease (AD) pathogenic mechanisms through generation of EOfAD-like mutations in animal models. In a previous study, we generated an EOfAD-like mutation, psen1Q96_K97del, in zebrafish and performed transcriptome analysis comparing entire brains from 6-month-old wild type and heterozygous mutant fish. We identified predicted effects on mitochondrial function and endolysosomal acidification. Here we aimed to determine whether similar effects occur in 7 day post fertilization (dpf) zebrafish larvae that might be exploited in screening of chemical libraries to find ameliorative drugs.RESULTS: We generated clutches of wild type and heterozygous psen1Q96_K97del 7 dpf larvae using a paired-mating strategy to reduce extraneous genetic variation before performing a comparative transcriptome analysis. We identified 228 differentially expressed genes and performed various bioinformatics analyses to predict cellular functions.
    CONCLUSIONS: Our analyses predicted a significant effect on oxidative phosphorylation, consistent with our earlier observations of predicted effects on ATP synthesis in adult heterozygous psen1Q96_K97del brains. The dysregulation of minichromosome maintenance protein complex (MCM) genes strongly contributed to predicted effects on DNA replication and the cell cycle and may explain earlier observations of genome instability due to PSEN1 mutation. The upregulation of crystallin gene expression may be a response to defective activity of mutant Psen1 protein in endolysosomal acidification. Genes related to extracellular matrix (ECM) were downregulated, consistent with previous studies of EOfAD mutant iPSC neurons and postmortem late onset AD brains. Also, changes in expression of genes controlling iron ion transport were observed without identifiable changes in the prevalence of transcripts containing iron responsive elements (IREs) in their 3' untranslated regions (UTRs). These changes may, therefore, predispose to the apparent iron dyshomeostasis previously observed in 6-month-old heterozygous psen1Q96_K97del EOfAD-like mutant brains.
  12. Biochem Soc Trans. 2021 Mar 26. pii: BST20190236. [Epub ahead of print]
      Parkinson's disease (PD) is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder that affects around 2% of individuals over 60 years old. It is characterised by the loss of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra pars compacta of the midbrain, which is thought to account for the major clinical symptoms such as tremor, slowness of movement and muscle stiffness. Its aetiology is poorly understood as the physiological and molecular mechanisms leading to this neuronal loss are currently unclear. However, mitochondrial and lysosomal dysfunction seem to play a central role in this disease. In recent years, defective mitochondrial elimination through autophagy, termed mitophagy, has emerged as a potential contributing factor to disease pathology. PINK1 and Parkin, two proteins mutated in familial PD, were found to eliminate mitochondria under distinct mitochondrial depolarisation-induced stress. However, PINK1 and Parkin are not essential for all types of mitophagy and such pathways occur in most cell types and tissues in vivo, even in the absence of overt mitochondrial stress - so-called basal mitophagy. The most common mutation in PD, that of glycine at position 2019 to serine in the protein kinase LRRK2, results in increased activity and this was recently shown to disrupt basal mitophagy in vivo. Thus, different modalities of mitophagy are affected by distinct proteins implicated in PD, suggesting impaired mitophagy may be a common denominator for the disease. In this short review, we discuss the current knowledge about the link between PD pathogenic mutations and mitophagy, with a particular focus on LRRK2.
    Keywords:  Parkinsons disease; autophagy; leucine-rich repeat kinase; mitophagy
  13. Sci Prog. 2021 Jan-Mar;104(1):104(1): 368504211001146
      The ubiquitin-proteasome system (UPS) plays crucial roles in numerous cellular functions. Dysfunction of the UPS shows certain correlations with the pathological changes in Alzheimer's disease (AD). This study aimed to explore the different impairments of the UPS in multiple brain regions and identify hub ubiquitin ligase (E3) genes in AD. The brain transcriptome, blood transcriptome and proteome data of AD were downloaded from a public database. The UPS genes were collected from the Ubiquitin and Ubiquitin-like Conjugation Database. The hub E3 genes were defined as the differentially expressed E3 genes shared by more than three brain regions. E3Miner and UbiBrowser were used to predict the substrate of hub E3. This study shows varied impairment of the UPS in different brain regions in AD. Furthermore, we identify seven hub E3 genes (CUL1, CUL3, EIF3I, NSMCE1, PAFAH1B1, RNF175, and UCHL1) that are downregulated in more than three brain regions. Three of these genes (CUL1, EIF3I, and NSMCE1) showed consistent low expression in blood. Most of these genes have been reported to promote AD, whereas the impact of RNF175 on AD is not yet reported. Further analysis revealed a potential regulatory mechanism by which hub E3 and its substrate genes may affect transcription functions and then exacerbate AD. This study identified seven hub E3 genes and their substrate genes affect transcription functions and then exacerbate AD. These findings may be helpful for the development of diagnostic biomarkers and therapeutic targets for AD.
    Keywords:  Alzheimer’s disease; brain region; gene expression; ubiquitin ligases; ubiquitin-proteasome system
  14. Front Aging Neurosci. 2021 ;13 650038
      Mitochondria are organelles responsible for bioenergetic metabolism, calcium homeostasis, and signal transmission essential for neurons due to their high energy consumption. Accumulating evidence has demonstrated that mitochondria play a key role in axon degeneration and regeneration under physiological and pathological conditions. Mitochondrial dysfunction occurs at an early stage of axon degeneration and involves oxidative stress, energy deficiency, imbalance of mitochondrial dynamics, defects in mitochondrial transport, and mitophagy dysregulation. The restoration of these defective mitochondria by enhancing mitochondrial transport, clearance of reactive oxidative species (ROS), and improving bioenergetic can greatly contribute to axon regeneration. In this paper, we focus on the biological behavior of axonal mitochondria in aging, injury (e.g., traumatic brain and spinal cord injury), and neurodegenerative diseases (Alzheimer's disease, AD; Parkinson's disease, PD; Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, ALS) and consider the role of mitochondria in axon regeneration. We also compare the behavior of mitochondria in different diseases and outline novel therapeutic strategies for addressing abnormal mitochondrial biological behavior to promote axonal regeneration in neurological diseases and injuries.
    Keywords:  Alzheimer's disease; Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; Parkinson's disease; aging; axon regeneration; mitochondria; spinal cord injury; traumatic brain injury
  15. Apoptosis. 2021 Mar 09.
      Stroke is the leading cause of adult disability and death worldwide. Mitochondrial dysfunction has been recognized as a marker of neuronal death during ischemic stroke. Maintaining the function of mitochondria is important for improving the survival of neurons and maintaining neuronal function. Damaged mitochondria induce neuronal cell apoptosis by releasing reactive oxygen species (ROS) and pro-apoptotic factors. Mitochondrial fission and fusion processes and mitophagy are of great importance to mitochondrial quality control. This paper reviews the dynamic changes in mitochondria, the roles of mitochondria in different cell types, and related signaling pathways in ischemic stroke. This review describes in detail the role of mitochondria in the process of neuronal injury and protection in cerebral ischemia, and integrates neuroprotective drugs targeting mitochondria in recent years, which may provide a theoretical basis for the progress of treatment of ischemic stroke. The potential of mitochondrial-targeted therapy is also emphasized, which provides valuable insights for clinical research.
    Keywords:  Ischemic stroke; Mitochondria; Mitochondrial dynamics; Mitophagy; Neuroprotective drugs; Reactive oxygen species
  16. Front Cell Dev Biol. 2021 ;9 642853
      Mitochondria actively participate in the regulation of cell respiratory mechanisms, metabolic processes, and energy homeostasis in the central nervous system (CNS). Because of the requirement of high energy, neuronal functionality and viability are largely dependent on mitochondrial functionality. In the context of CNS disorders, disruptions of metabolic homeostasis caused by mitochondrial dysfunction lead to neuronal cell death and neuroinflammation. Therefore, restoring mitochondrial function becomes a primary therapeutic target. Recently, accumulating evidence suggests that active mitochondria are secreted into the extracellular fluid and potentially act as non-cell-autonomous signals in CNS pathophysiology. In this mini-review, we overview findings that implicate the presence of cell-free extracellular mitochondria and the critical role of intercellular mitochondrial transfer in various rodent models of CNS disorders. We also discuss isolated mitochondrial allograft as a novel therapeutic intervention for CNS disorders.
    Keywords:  biomarker; central nervous system; extracellular mitochondria; mitochondrial transfer; neurovascular unit
  17. ACS Chem Neurosci. 2021 Mar 26.
      α-Synuclein (α-syn), a small highly conserved presynaptic protein containing 140 amino acids, is thought to be the main pathological hallmark in related neurodegenerative disorders. Although the normal function of α-syn is closely involved in the regulation of vesicular neurotransmission in these diseases, the underlying mechanisms of post-translational modifications (PTMs) of α-syn in the pathogenesis of Parkinson's disease (PD) have not been fully characterized. The pathological accumulation of misfolded α-syn has a critical role in PD pathogenesis. Recent studies of factors contributing to α-syn-associated aggregation and misfolding have expanded our understanding of the PD disease process. In this Review, we summarize the structure and physiological function of α-syn, and we further highlight the major PTMs (namely phosphorylation, ubiquitination, nitration, acetylation, truncation, SUMOylation, and O-GlcNAcylation) of α-syn and the effects of these modifications on α-syn aggregation, which may elucidate mechanisms for PD pathogenesis and lay a theoretical foundation for clinical treatment of PD.
    Keywords:  Parkinson’s disease; neurodegenerative diseases; post-translational modifications; protein aggregation; protein misfolding; α-Synuclein
  18. Curr Alzheimer Res. 2021 Mar 24.
      BACKGROUND: Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the most common neurodegenerative disorder characterized by cognitive decline and total brain atrophy. Despite the substantial scientific effort, the pathological mechanisms underlying neurodegeneration in AD are currently unknown. In most studies, amyloid β peptide has been considered the key pathological change in AD. However, numerous Aβ-targeting treatments have failed in clinical trials. This implies the need to shift the re- search focus from Aβ to other pathological features of the disease.OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to examine the interplay between mitochondrial dysfunction, oxidative stress and blood-brain barrier (BBB) disruption in AD pathology, using a novel approach that involves the application of electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) spectroscopy.
    METHOD: In vivo and ex vivo EPR spectroscopy using two spin probes (aminoxyl radicals) exhibit- ing different cell-membrane and BBB permeability were employed to assess BBB integrity and brain tissue redox status in the 5xFAD mouse model of AD. In vivo spin probe reduction decay was analyzed using a two-compartment pharmacokinetic model. Furthermore, 15 K EPR spectros- copy was employed to investigate the brain metal content.
    RESULTS: This study has revealed an altered brain redox state, BBB breakdown, as well as ROS-me- diated damage to mitochondrial iron-sulfur clusters, and up-regulation of MnSOD in the 5xFAD model.
    CONCLUSION: The EPR spin probes were shown to be excellent in vivo reporters of the 5xFAD neu- ronal tissue redox state, as well as the BBB integrity, indicating the importance of in vivo EPR spec- troscopy application in preclinical studies of neurodegenerative diseases.
    Keywords:  5xFAD.; Alzheimer’s disease; EPR; blood-brain barrier; mitochondria; spin probes
  19. FASEB J. 2021 Apr;35(4): e21363
      Impairment of protein clearance mechanisms leads to α-synuclein accumulation in dopaminergic neurons, contributing to the pathogenesis of Parkinson's disease (PD). Based on the finding that Fas-associated factor 1 (FAF1), a positive modulator of PD, colocalizes with α-synuclein in PD patient brains, we investigated the existence of pathological interplay between FAF1 and α-synuclein. Monomeric and high-molecular-weight forms of α-synuclein were increased in FAF1-overexpressing SH-SY5Y cells. In particular, α-synuclein turnover was accelerated by genetic depletion of FAF1 in SH-SY5Y cells. Therefore, we questioned whether FAF1 is involved in the α-synuclein clearance process. Autophagy inhibitors, but not proteasome inhibitors, restored concurrent attenuation of α-synuclein expression by FAF1 depletion in SH-SY5Y cells. Moreover, we found alterations in autophagy markers in SH-SY5Y cells caused by FAF1 overexpression, indicating that FAF1 disturbed α-synuclein clearance through the autophagy-lysosome pathway. Indeed, FAF1 activated the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) pathway, subsequently suppressing autophagosome formation. Consistently, α-synuclein-mediated mitochondrial dysfunction was observed in FAF1-overexpressing SH-SY5Y cells. Furthermore, FAF1 overexpression using stereotaxic injection of adeno-associated virus led to α-synuclein accumulation and autophagy dysregulation in the PD model mice. Taken together, our results reveal a novel role for FAF1: that of a negative regulator of autophagic α-synuclein clearance.
    Keywords:  Parkinson's disease; macroautophagy; striatum; substantia nigra
  20. J Biochem Mol Toxicol. 2021 Mar 09. e22737
      Homocysteine (Hcy) is a sulfur-containing amino acid that originated in methionine metabolism and the elevated level of Hcy in plasma is considered to be an independent risk factor for cardiovascular diseases (CVD). Endothelial dysfunction plays a major role in the development of CVD, while the potential mechanism of Hcy-induced endothelial dysfunction is still unclear. Here, in Hcy-treated endothelial cells, we observed the destruction of mitochondrial morphology and the decline of mitochondrial membrane potential. Meanwhile, the level of ATP was reduced and the reactive oxygen species was increased. The expressions of dynamin-related protein 1 (Drp1) and phosphate-Drp1 (Ser616) were upregulated, whereas the expression of mitofusin 2 was inhibited by Hcy treatment. These findings suggested that Hcy not only triggered mitochondrial dysfunction but also incurred an imbalance of mitochondrial dynamics in endothelial cells. The expression of mitochondrial calcium uniporter (MCU) was activated by Hcy, contributing to calcium transferring into mitochondria. Interestingly, the formation of mitochondria-associated membranes (MAMs) was increased in endothelial cells after Hcy administration. The inositol 1,4,5-triphosphate receptor (IP3R)-glucose-regulated protein 75 (Grp75)-voltage-dependent anion channel (VDAC) complex, which was enriched in MAMs, was also increased. The accumulation of mitochondrial calcium could be blocked by inhibiting with the IP3R inhibitor Xestospongin C (XeC) in Hcy-treated cells. Then, we confirmed that the mitochondrial dysfunction and the increased mitochondrial fission induced by Hcy could be attenuated after Hcy and XeC co-treatment. In conclusion, Hcy-induced mitochondrial dysfunction and dynamics disorder in endothelial cells were mainly related to the increase of calcium as a result of the upregulated expressions of the MCU and the IP3R-Grp75-VDAC complex in MAMs.
    Keywords:  calcium; endothelial cells; homocysteine; mitochondria-associated membranes; mitochondrial dysfunction
  21. Mol Genet Metab. 2021 Mar 11. pii: S1096-7192(21)00062-7. [Epub ahead of print]
      Leigh syndrome is a severe mitochondrial neurodegenerative disease with no effective treatment. In the Ndufs4-/- mouse model of Leigh syndrome, continuously breathing 11% O2 (hypoxia) prevents neurodegeneration and leads to a dramatic extension (~5-fold) in lifespan. We investigated the effect of hypoxia on the brain metabolism of Ndufs4-/- mice by studying blood gas tensions and metabolite levels in simultaneously sampled arterial and cerebral internal jugular venous (IJV) blood. Relatively healthy Ndufs4-/- and wildtype (WT) mice breathing air until postnatal age ~38 d were compared to Ndufs4-/- and WT mice breathing air until ~38 days old followed by 4-weeks of breathing 11% O2. Compared to WT control mice, Ndufs4-/- mice breathing air have reduced brain O2 consumption as evidenced by an elevated partial pressure of O2 in IJV blood (PijvO2) despite a normal PO2 in arterial blood, and higher lactate/pyruvate (L/P) ratios in IJV plasma revealed by metabolic profiling. In Ndufs4-/- mice, hypoxia treatment normalized the cerebral venous PijvO2 and L/P ratios, and decreased levels of nicotinate in IJV plasma. Brain concentrations of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+) were lower in Ndufs4-/- mice breathing air than in WT mice, but preserved at WT levels with hypoxia treatment. Although mild hypoxia (17% O2) has been shown to be an ineffective therapy for Ndufs4-/- mice, we find that when combined with nicotinic acid supplementation it provides a modest improvement in neurodegeneration and lifespan. Therapies targeting both brain hyperoxia and NAD+ deficiency may hold promise for treating Leigh syndrome.
    Keywords:  A-V difference; Arterial-venous difference; Arteriovenous difference; Brain; Hypoxia; Leigh syndrome; Metabolism; Metabolomics; NAD; Ndufs4; Niacin; Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide; Nicotinic acid; O(2); Oxygen
  22. Mol Brain. 2021 Mar 23. 14(1): 58
      Mitochondrial structural changes are associated with the regulation of mitochondrial function, apoptosis, and neurodegenerative diseases. PRKN is known to be involved with various mechanisms of mitochondrial quality control including mitochondrial structural changes. Parkinson's disease (PD) with PRKN mutations is characterized by the preferential degeneration of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra pars compacta, which has been suggested to result from the accumulation of damaged mitochondria. However, ultrastructural changes of mitochondria specifically in dopaminergic neurons derived from iPSC have rarely been analyzed. The main reason for this would be that the dopaminergic neurons cannot be distinguished directly among a mixture of iPSC-derived differentiated cells under electron microscopy. To selectively label dopaminergic neurons and analyze mitochondrial morphology at the ultrastructural level, we generated control and PRKN-mutated patient tyrosine hydroxylase reporter (TH-GFP) induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) lines. Correlative light-electron microscopy analysis and live cell imaging of GFP-expressing dopaminergic neurons indicated that iPSC-derived dopaminergic neurons had smaller and less functional mitochondria than those in non-dopaminergic neurons. Furthermore, the formation of spheroid-shaped mitochondria, which was induced in control dopaminergic neurons by a mitochondrial uncoupler, was inhibited in the PRKN-mutated dopaminergic neurons. These results indicate that our established TH-GFP iPSC lines are useful for characterizing mitochondrial morphology, such as spheroid-shaped mitochondria, in dopaminergic neurons among a mixture of various cell types. Our in vitro model would provide insights into the vulnerability of dopaminergic neurons and the processes leading to the preferential loss of dopaminergic neurons in patients with PRKN mutations.
    Keywords:  Dopaminergic neurons; IPSC; Mitochondria; PRKN; Ultrastructure
  23. Sci Rep. 2021 Mar 09. 11(1): 5484
      Kynurenine 3-monooxygenase (KMO) regulates the levels of neuroactive metabolites in the kynurenine pathway (KP), dysregulation of which is associated with Huntington's disease (HD) pathogenesis. KMO inhibition leads to increased levels of neuroprotective relative to neurotoxic metabolites, and has been found to ameliorate disease-relevant phenotypes in several HD models. Here, we crossed KMO knockout mice to R6/2 HD mice to examine the effect of KMO depletion in the brain and periphery. KP genes were dysregulated in peripheral tissues from R6/2 mice and KMO ablation normalised levels of a subset of these. KP metabolites were also assessed, and KMO depletion led to increased levels of neuroprotective kynurenic acid in brain and periphery, and dramatically reduced neurotoxic 3-hydroxykunurenine levels in striatum and cortex. Notably, the increased levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines TNFa, IL1β, IL4 and IL6 found in R6/2 plasma were normalised upon KMO deletion. Despite these improvements in KP dysregulation and peripheral inflammation, KMO ablation had no effect upon several behavioural phenotypes. Therefore, although genetic inhibition of KMO in R6/2 mice modulates several metabolic and inflammatory parameters, these do not translate to improvements in primary disease indicators-observations which will likely be relevant for other interventions targeted at peripheral inflammation in HD.
  24. Curr Alzheimer Res. 2021 Mar 24.
      BACKGROUND: Environmental risk factors, including environmental noise stress, and genetic factors, have been associated with the occurrence and development of Alzheimer's disease (AD). However, the exact role and mechanism of AD-like pathology induced by environment-gene interactions between environmental noise and APP/PS1 gene remain elusive.METHODS: Herein, we investigated the impact of chronic noise exposure on AD-like neuropathology in APP/PS1 transgenic mice. The Morris water maze (MWM) task was conducted to evaluate AD-like changes. The hippocampal phosphorylated Tau, amyloid-β (Aβ), and neuroinflammation were assessed. We also assessed changes in positive feedback loop signaling of the voltage-dependent anion channel 1 (VDAC1) to explore the potential underlying mechanism linking AD-like neuropathology to noise-APP/PS1 interactions.
    RESULTS: Long-term noise exposure significantly increased the escape latency and the number of platform crossings in the MWM task. The Aβ overproduction was induced in the hippocampus of APP/PS1 mice, along with the increase of Tau phosphorylation at Ser396 and Thr231 and the increase of the microglia and astrocytes markers expression. Moreover, the VDAC1-AKT (protein kinaseB)-GSK3β (glycogen synthase kinase 3 beta)-VDAC1 signaling pathway was abnormally activated in the hippocampus of APP/PS1 mice after noise exposure.
    CONCLUSION: Chronic noise exposure and APP/PS1 overexpression may synergistically exacerbate cognitive impairment and neuropathological changes that occur in AD. This interaction may be mediated by the positive feedback loop of the VDAC1-AKT-GSK3β-VDAC1 signaling pathway.
    Keywords:  AD-like neuropathology; APP/PS1; Chronic noise; Gene–environment interaction; Synergistic effect