bims-minimp Biomed News
on Mitochondria, innate immunity, proteostasis
Issue of 2021‒08‒15
twenty-nine papers selected by
Hanna Salmonowicz
International Institute of Molecular Mechanisms and Machines of the Polish Academy of Sciences

  1. Front Cell Dev Biol. 2021 ;9 720490
      Mitochondria are master regulators of metabolism and have emerged as key signalling organelles of the innate immune system. Each mitochondrion harbours potent agonists of inflammation, including mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), which are normally shielded from the rest of the cell and extracellular environment and therefore do not elicit detrimental inflammatory cascades. Mitochondrial damage and dysfunction can lead to the cytosolic and extracellular exposure of mtDNA, which triggers inflammation in a number of diseases including autoimmune neurodegenerative disorders. However, recent research has revealed that the extra-mitochondrial exposure of mtDNA is not solely a negative consequence of mitochondrial damage and pointed to an active role of mitochondria in innate immunity. Metabolic cues including nucleotide imbalance can stimulate the release of mtDNA from mitochondria in order to drive a type I interferon response. Moreover, important effectors of the innate immune response to pathogen infection, such as the mitochondrial antiviral signalling protein (MAVS), are located at the mitochondrial surface and modulated by the cellular metabolic status and mitochondrial dynamics. In this review, we explore how and why metabolism and innate immunity converge at the mitochondria and describe how mitochondria orchestrate innate immune signalling pathways in different metabolic scenarios. Understanding how cellular metabolism and metabolic programming of mitochondria are translated into innate immune responses bears relevance to a broad range of human diseases including cancer.
    Keywords:  CGAS; MAVS; STING; innate immunity; metabolism; mitochondria; mitochondrial DNA
  2. Cell. 2021 Aug 03. pii: S0092-8674(21)00880-1. [Epub ahead of print]
      Emerging evidence supports that mitochondrial dysfunction contributes to systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) pathogenesis. Here we show that programmed mitochondrial removal, a hallmark of mammalian erythropoiesis, is defective in SLE. Specifically, we demonstrate that during human erythroid cell maturation, a hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF)-mediated metabolic switch is responsible for the activation of the ubiquitin-proteasome system (UPS), which precedes and is necessary for the autophagic removal of mitochondria. A defect in this pathway leads to accumulation of red blood cells (RBCs) carrying mitochondria (Mito+ RBCs) in SLE patients and in correlation with disease activity. Antibody-mediated internalization of Mito+ RBCs induces type I interferon (IFN) production through activation of cGAS in macrophages. Accordingly, SLE patients carrying both Mito+ RBCs and opsonizing antibodies display the highest levels of blood IFN-stimulated gene (ISG) signatures, a distinctive feature of SLE.
    Keywords:  CANDLE syndrome; HIF2a; autoimmunity; cGAS; human erythropoiesis; interferon; mitochondrial DNA; mitophagy; proteasome; systemic lupus erythematosus
  3. Mitochondrion. 2021 Aug 09. pii: S1567-7249(21)00109-4. [Epub ahead of print]
      The size and morphology of mitochondria are very heterogeneous and correlates well with their healthy functioning. In many pathological conditions, mitochondrial morphology is altered due to impaired mitochondrial dynamics (a collective term for mitochondrial fusion and fission) and dysfunction. The current study aimed at identifying the role of microRNA-128 (miR-128) in regulating mitochondrial biogenesis. Previously, peroxisome proliferator activator receptor γ coactivator 1α (PGC1α) has been shown to co-activate key intermediates of mitochondrial biogenesis, function, and dynamics; however, the upstream regulatory network remains largely unknown. We, herein using in silico analysis followed by in vitro experiments in C2C12 myoblasts, showed that miR-128 reduces mitochondrial biogenesis by directly targeting PGC1α. The expression of downstream genes, nuclear respiratory factors 1 and 2 (NRF1 and NRF2, respectively), and mitochondrial transcription factor A (TFAM) were decreased in C2C12 myoblasts upon overexpression of miR-128. Also, miR-128 is shown to promote mitochondrial dysfunction by directly targeting NADH Dehydrogenase (Ubiquinone) Fe-S Protein 4 (NDUFS4). The mitochondrial dynamics and morphology were impaired post miR-128 overexpression, as revealed by downregulation of fusion proteins (mitofusin1 and 2, i.e., MFN1 and MFN2, respectively) and upregulation of fission protein (dynamin-related protein 1, i.e., DRP1). Conversely, inhibition of miR-128 expression improved mitochondrial biogenesis, function, and dynamics, as evidenced by increased mitochondrial mass and ATP production after antimiR-128 treatment. Our findings reveal that inhibition of miR-128 can be a new potential target for reversing the effects of metabolic disorders of skeletal muscle as observed during many pathophysiological conditions such as obesity and type II diabetes.
    Keywords:  MiR-128; NDUFS4; PGC1α; mitochondrial biogenesis; mitochondrial dysfunction
  4. Cell Stem Cell. 2021 Aug 06. pii: S1934-5909(21)00294-0. [Epub ahead of print]
      Maintaining proteostasis is key to resisting stress and promoting healthy aging. Proteostasis is necessary to preserve stem cell function, but little is known about the mechanisms that regulate proteostasis during stress in stem cells, and whether disruptions of proteostasis contribute to stem cell aging is largely unexplored. We determined that ex-vivo-cultured mouse and human hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) rapidly increase protein synthesis. This challenge to HSC proteostasis was associated with nuclear accumulation of Hsf1, and deletion of Hsf1 impaired HSC maintenance ex vivo. Strikingly, supplementing cultures with small molecules that enhance Hsf1 activation partially suppressed protein synthesis, rebalanced proteostasis, and supported retention of HSC serial reconstituting activity. Although Hsf1 was dispensable for young adult HSCs in vivo, Hsf1 deficiency increased protein synthesis and impaired the reconstituting activity of middle-aged HSCs. Hsf1 thus promotes proteostasis and the regenerative activity of HSCs in response to culture stress and aging.
    Keywords:  Hsf1; aging; heat shock response; hematopoiesis; hematopoietic stem cell; protein synthesis; proteostasis; stem cell; stress; translation
  5. Mitochondrion. 2021 Aug 05. pii: S1567-7249(21)00103-3. [Epub ahead of print]
      Mitochondrial adaptations to various environmental cues contribute to cellular and organismal adaptations across multiple model organisms. Due to increased complexity, a direct connection between mitochondrial integrity and oxygen fluctuations, and survival fitness was not demonstrated. Here, using C. elegans as a model system, we studied the role of HIF-1, Hsp90, and TRAP-1 in mitochondrial adaptations during chemical hypoxia. We show that Hsp90mt (Hsp90 mutant) but not HIF-1mt (HIF-1 mutant) affects hypoxia adaptation in nematodes. TRAP-1KD (TRAP-1 knockdown) worms interfered with the survival and fecundity of worms. Compared to Hsp90mt, TRAP-1KD has induced a significant decrease in mitochondrial integrity and oxygen consumption rate. The complex I inhibitor rotenone did not affect ATP levels in Hsp90mt worms. However, ATP levels were decreased in TRAP-1KD worms under similar conditions. The glucose restriction has reduced, and glucose supplementation has increased the survival rate in Hsp90mt worms. Neither glucose restriction nor glucose supplementation has significantly affected the survival of TRAP-1KD worms in response to hypoxia. However, TRAP-1 inhibition using a nanocarrier drug has dramatically reduced the survival rate in response to hypoxia. Our results suggest that Hsp90 and TRAP-1 independently regulate hypoxia adaptations and metabolic plasticity in C. elegans. Considering the emerging roles of TRAP-1 in altered energy metabolism and cellular adaptations, our findings gain importance.
    Keywords:  Caenorhabditis elegans; HIF-1; Hsp90; TRAP-1; hypoxia; mitochondria
  6. J Exp Med. 2021 Oct 04. pii: e20201560. [Epub ahead of print]218(10):
      Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) has been suggested to drive immune system activation, but the induction of interferon signaling by mtDNA has not been demonstrated in a Mendelian mitochondrial disease. We initially ascertained two patients, one with a purely neurological phenotype and one with features suggestive of systemic sclerosis in a syndromic context, and found them both to demonstrate enhanced interferon-stimulated gene (ISG) expression in blood. We determined each to harbor a previously described de novo dominant-negative heterozygous mutation in ATAD3A, encoding ATPase family AAA domain-containing protein 3A (ATAD3A). We identified five further patients with mutations in ATAD3A and recorded up-regulated ISG expression and interferon α protein in four of them. Knockdown of ATAD3A in THP-1 cells resulted in increased interferon signaling, mediated by cyclic GMP-AMP synthase (cGAS) and stimulator of interferon genes (STING). Enhanced interferon signaling was abrogated in THP-1 cells and patient fibroblasts depleted of mtDNA. Thus, mutations in the mitochondrial membrane protein ATAD3A define a novel type I interferonopathy.
  7. J Cell Sci. 2022 Mar 01. pii: jcs258325. [Epub ahead of print]135(5):
      When the temperature is increased, the heat-shock response is activated to protect the cellular environment. The transcriptomics and proteomics of this process are intensively studied, while information about how the cell responds structurally to heat stress is mostly lacking. Here, Saccharomyces cerevisiae were subjected to a mild continuous heat shock (38°C) and intermittently cryo-immobilised for electron microscopy. Through measuring changes in all distinguishable organelle numbers, sizes and morphologies in over 2100 electron micrographs, a major restructuring of the internal architecture of the cell during the progressive heat shock was revealed. The cell grew larger but most organelles within it expanded even more, shrinking the volume of the cytoplasm. Organelles responded to heat shock at different times, both in terms of size and number, and adaptations of the morphology of some organelles (such as the vacuole) were observed. Multivesicular bodies grew by almost 70%, indicating a previously unknown involvement in the heat-shock response. A previously undescribed electron-translucent structure accumulated close to the plasma membrane. This all-encompassing approach provides a detailed chronological progression of organelle adaptation throughout the cellular heat-stress response.
    Keywords:  Budding yeast; Electron microscopy; Heat shock; Organelles; Ultrastructure
  8. Cell Death Differ. 2021 Aug 13.
      Mitochondrial dysfunction and mitophagy are often hallmarks of neurodegenerative diseases such as autosomal dominant optic atrophy (ADOA) caused by mutations in the key mitochondrial dynamics protein optic atrophy 1 (Opa1). However, the second messengers linking mitochondrial dysfunction to initiation of mitophagy remain poorly characterized. Here, we show in mammalian and nematode neurons that Opa1 mutations trigger Ca2+-dependent mitophagy. Deletion or expression of mutated Opa1 in mouse retinal ganglion cells and Caenorhabditis elegans motor neurons lead to mitochondrial dysfunction, increased cytosolic Ca2+ levels, and decreased axonal mitochondrial density. Chelation of Ca2+ restores mitochondrial density in neuronal processes, neuronal function, and viability. Mechanistically, sustained Ca2+ levels activate calcineurin and AMPK, placed in the same genetic pathway regulating axonal mitochondrial density. Our data reveal that mitophagy in ADOA depends on Ca2+-calcineurin-AMPK signaling cascade.
  9. Cell Biol Toxicol. 2021 Aug 08.
      Cardiomyocyte apoptosis is critical for the development of viral myocarditis (VMC), which is one of the leading causes of cardiac sudden death in young adults. Our previous studies have demonstrated that elevated calpain activity is involved in the pathogenesis of VMC. This study aimed to further explore the underlying mechanisms. Neonatal rat cardiomyocytes (NRCMs) and transgenic mice overexpressing calpastatin were infected with coxsackievirus B3 (CVB3) to establish a VMC model. Apoptosis was detected with flow cytometry, TUNEL staining, and western blotting. Cardiac function was measured using echocardiography. Mitochondrial function was measured using ATP assays, JC-1, and MitoSOX. Mitochondrial morphology was observed using MitoTracker staining and transmission electron microscopy. Colocalization of dynamin-related protein 1 (Drp-1) in mitochondria was examined using immunofluorescence. Phosphorylation levels of Drp-1 at Ser637 site were determined using western blotting analysis. We found that CVB3 infection impaired mitochondrial function as evidenced by increased mitochondrial ROS production, decreased ATP production and mitochondrial membrane potential, induced myocardial apoptosis and damage, and decreased myocardial function. These effects of CVB3 infection were attenuated by inhibition of calpain both by PD150606 treatment and calpastatin overexpression. Furthermore, CVB3-induced mitochondrial dysfunction was associated with the accumulation of Drp-1 in the outer membrane of mitochondria and subsequent increase in mitochondrial fission. Mechanistically, calpain cleaved and activated calcineurin A, which dephosphorylated Drp-1 at Ser637 site and promoted its accumulation in the mitochondria, leading to mitochondrial fission and dysfunction. In summary, calpain inhibition attenuated CVB3-induced myocarditis by reducing mitochondrial fission, thereby inhibiting cardiomyocyte apoptosis. Calpain is activated by CVB3 infection. Activated calpain cleaves calcineurin A and converts it to active form which could dephosphorylate Drp-1 at Ser637 site. Then, the active Drp-1 translocates from the cytoplasm to mitochondria and triggers excessive mitochondrial fission. Eventually, the balance of mitochondrial dynamics is broken, and apoptosis occurs.
    Keywords:  Apoptosis; Calpain; Dynamin-related protein 1; Mitochondria; Viral myocarditis
  10. Cell Rep. 2021 Aug 10. pii: S2211-1247(21)00939-6. [Epub ahead of print]36(6): 109509
      The brain's ability to process complex information relies on the constant supply of energy through aerobic respiration by mitochondria. Neurons contain three anatomically distinct compartments-the soma, dendrites, and projecting axons-which have different energetic and biochemical requirements, as well as different mitochondrial morphologies in cultured systems. In this study, we apply quantitative three-dimensional electron microscopy to map mitochondrial network morphology and complexity in the mouse brain. We examine somatic, dendritic, and axonal mitochondria in the dentate gyrus and cornu ammonis 1 (CA1) of the mouse hippocampus, two subregions with distinct principal cell types and functions. We also establish compartment-specific differences in mitochondrial morphology across these cell types between young and old mice, highlighting differences in age-related morphological recalibrations. Overall, these data define the nature of the neuronal mitochondrial network in the mouse hippocampus, providing a foundation to examine the role of mitochondrial morpho-function in the aging brain.
    Keywords:  3D reconstruction; SBF-SEM; aging; hippocampus; microscopy; mitochondria; morphology; morphometry; three-dimensional; topology
  11. Trends Immunol. 2021 Aug 04. pii: S1471-4906(21)00139-3. [Epub ahead of print]
      Type I Interferon (IFN-I) responses were first recognized for their role in antiviral immunity, but it is now widely appreciated that IFN-Is have many immunomodulatory functions, influencing antitumor responses, autoimmune manifestations, and antimicrobial defenses. Given these pivotal roles, it may be surprising that multilayered stochastic events create highly heterogeneous, but tightly regulated, all-or-nothing cellular decisions. Recently, mathematical models have provided crucial insights into the stochastic nature of antiviral IFN-I responses, which we critically evaluate in this review. In this context, we emphasize the need for innovative single-cell technologies combined with mathematical models to further reveal, understand, and predict the complexity of the IFN-I system in physiological and pathological conditions that may be relevant to a plethora of diseases.
  12. J Nutr. 2021 Aug 12. pii: nxab211. [Epub ahead of print]
      BACKGROUND: Adequate cellular thymidylate (dTMP) pools are essential for preservation of nuclear and mitochondrial genome stability. Previous studies have indicated that disruption in nuclear dTMP synthesis leads to increased uracil misincorporation into DNA, affecting genome stability. To date, the effects of impaired mitochondrial dTMP synthesis in nontransformed tissues have been understudied.OBJECTIVES: This study aimed to determine the effects of decreased serine hydroxymethyltransferase 2 (Shmt2) expression and dietary folate deficiency on mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) integrity and mitochondrial function in mouse tissues.
    METHODS: Liver mtDNA content, and uracil content in liver mtDNA, were measured in Shmt2+/- and Shmt2+/+ mice weaned onto either a folate-sufficient control diet (2 mg/kg folic acid; C) or a modified diet lacking folic acid (0 mg/kg folic acid) for 7 wk. Shmt2+/- and Shmt2+/+ mouse embryonic fibroblast (MEF) cells were cultured in defined culture medium containing either 0 or 25 nM folate (6S-5-formyl-tetrahydrofolate, folinate) to assess proliferative capacity and mitochondrial function. Chi-square tests, linear mixed models, and 2-factor ANOVA with Tukey post hoc analyses were used to analyze data.
    RESULTS: Shmt2 +/- mice exhibited a 48%-67% reduction in SHMT2 protein concentrations in tissues. Interestingly, Shmt2+/- mice consuming the folate-sufficient C diet exhibited a 25% reduction in total folate in liver mitochondria. There was also a >20-fold increase in uracil in liver mtDNA in Shmt2+/- mice consuming the C diet, and dietary folate deficiency also increased uracil content in mouse liver mtDNA from both Shmt2+/+ and Shmt2+/- mice. Furthermore, decreased Shmt2 expression in MEF cells reduced cell proliferation, mitochondrial membrane potential, and oxygen consumption rate.
    CONCLUSIONS: This study demonstrates that Shmt2 heterozygosity and dietary folate deficiency impair mitochondrial dTMP synthesis in mice, as evidenced by the increased uracil in mtDNA. In addition, Shmt2 heterozygosity impairs mitochondrial function in MEF cells. These findings suggest that elevated uracil in mtDNA may impair mitochondrial function.
    Keywords:  SHMT2; folate; one-carbon metabolism; oxygen consumption rate; thymidylate; uracil
  13. PLoS Genet. 2021 Aug 12. 17(8): e1009731
      A healthy population of mitochondria, maintained by proper fission, fusion, and degradation, is critical for the long-term survival and function of neurons. Here, our discovery of mitophagy intermediates in fission-impaired Drosophila neurons brings new perspective into the relationship between mitochondrial fission and mitophagy. Neurons lacking either the ataxia disease gene Vps13D or the dynamin related protein Drp1 contain enlarged mitochondria that are engaged with autophagy machinery and also lack matrix components. Reporter assays combined with genetic studies imply that mitophagy both initiates and is completed in Drp1 impaired neurons, but fails to complete in Vps13D impaired neurons, which accumulate compromised mitochondria within stalled mito-phagophores. Our findings imply that in fission-defective neurons, mitophagy becomes induced, and that the lipid channel containing protein Vps13D has separable functions in mitochondrial fission and phagophore elongation.
  14. Nat Commun. 2021 08 10. 12(1): 4835
      F-ATP synthase is a leading candidate as the mitochondrial permeability transition pore (PTP) but the mechanism(s) leading to channel formation remain undefined. Here, to shed light on the structural requirements for PTP formation, we test cells ablated for g, OSCP and b subunits, and ρ0 cells lacking subunits a and A6L. Δg cells (that also lack subunit e) do not show PTP channel opening in intact cells or patch-clamped mitoplasts unless atractylate is added. Δb and ΔOSCP cells display currents insensitive to cyclosporin A but inhibited by bongkrekate, suggesting that the adenine nucleotide translocator (ANT) can contribute to channel formation in the absence of an assembled F-ATP synthase. Mitoplasts from ρ0 mitochondria display PTP currents indistinguishable from their wild-type counterparts. In this work, we show that peripheral stalk subunits are essential to turn the F-ATP synthase into the PTP and that the ANT provides mitochondria with a distinct permeability pathway.
  15. Autophagy. 2021 Aug 12. 1-2
      Temperature variations induce stressful conditions that challenge the ability of organisms to maintain cell homeostasis. The intensity and duration of heat stress affect cell response very differently, ranging from a beneficial effect - hormesis - to necrotic cell death. There is a strong interplay between the cell response to heat shock and macroautophagy/autophagy, which is induced to cope with stress. Using Caenorhabditis elegans, we developed a new paradigm to study adaptation to acute non-lethal heat-stress (aHS) during development. We found that aHS results in transient fragmentation of mitochondria, decreased cellular respiration, and delayed development. Moreover, an active autophagy flux associated with mitophagy events is triggered in many tissues, enables the rebuilding of the mitochondrial network and modulates the adaptive plasticity of the development, showing that the autophagic response is protective for C. elegans. Using genetic and cellular approaches, we showed that mitochondria are a major site for autophagosome biogenesis in the epidermis, under both standard and heat-stress conditions. We determined that DRP-1 (Dynamin-Related Protein 1) involved in mitochondrial fission, is an important player for the autophagy process and the adaptation to aHS. Our study suggests that DRP-1 is involved in coordinating mitochondrial fission and autophagosome biogenesis during stress.
    Keywords:  Autophagy; C. elegans; DRP-1; development plasticity; heat shock; mitochondria
  16. Infect Immun. 2021 Aug 09. IAI0030621
      Mitochondria as a highly dynamic organelle continuously changes morphology and position during its life cycle. Mitochondrial dynamics including fission and fusion play a critical role in maintaining functional mitochondria for ATP production, which is directly linked to host defense against Mtb infection. However, how macrophages regulate mitochondrial dynamics during Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) infection remains elusive. In this study, we found that Mtb infection induced mitochondrial fusion through enhancing the expression of mitofusin 1 (MFN1), which resulted in increased ATP production. Silencing MFN1 inhibited mitochondrial fusion and subsequently reduced ATP production, which, in turn, severely impaired macrophages mycobactericidal activity by inhibiting autophagy. Impairment of mycobactericidal activity and autophagy was replicated using oligomycin, an inhibitor of ATP synthase. In summary, our study revealed MFN1-mediated mitochondrial fusion is essential for macrophages mycobactericidal activity through the regulation of ATP dependent autophagy. MFN1-mediated metabolism pathway might be targets for development of host direct therapy (HDT) strategy against TB.
  17. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2021 ;2021 6697861
      Cellular senescence is a state of irreversible cell proliferation arrest induced by various stressors including telomere attrition, DNA damage, and oncogene induction. While beneficial as an acute response to stress, the accumulation of senescent cells with increasing age is thought to contribute adversely to the development of cancer and a number of other age-related diseases, including neurodegenerative diseases for which there are currently no effective disease-modifying therapies. Non-cell-autonomous effects of senescent cells have been suggested to arise through the SASP, a wide variety of proinflammatory cytokines, chemokines, and exosomes secreted by senescent cells. Here, we report an additional means of cell communication utilised by senescent cells via large numbers of membrane-bound intercellular bridges-or tunnelling nanotubes (TNTs)-containing the cytoskeletal components actin and tubulin, which form direct physical connections between cells. We observe the presence of mitochondria in these TNTs and show organelle transfer through the TNTs to adjacent cells. While transport of individual mitochondria along single TNTs appears by time-lapse studies to be unidirectional, we show by differentially labelled co-culture experiments that organelle transfer through TNTs can occur between different cells of equivalent cell age, but that senescent cells, rather than proliferating cells, appear to be predominant mitochondrial donors. Using small molecule inhibitors, we demonstrate that senescent cell TNTs are dependent on signalling through the mTOR pathway, which we further show is mediated at least in part through the downstream actin-cytoskeleton regulatory factor CDC42. These findings have significant implications for the development of senomodifying therapies, as they highlight the need to account for local direct cell-cell contacts as well as the SASP in order to treat cancer and diseases of ageing in which senescence is a key factor.
  18. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2021 Aug 17. pii: e2021175118. [Epub ahead of print]118(33):
      Death receptor-mediated apoptosis requires the mitochondrial apoptosis pathway in many mammalian cells. In response to death receptor signaling, the truncated BH3-only protein BID can activate the proapoptotic BCL-2 proteins BAX and BAK and trigger the permeabilization of the mitochondria. BAX and BAK are inhibited by prosurvival BCL-2 proteins through retrotranslocation from the mitochondria into the cytosol, but a specific resistance mechanism to truncated BID-dependent apoptosis is unknown. Here, we report that hexokinase 1 and hexokinase 2 inhibit the apoptosis activator truncated BID as well as the effectors BAX and BAK by retrotranslocation from the mitochondria into the cytosol. BCL-2 protein shuttling and protection from TRAIL- and FasL-induced cell death requires mitochondrial hexokinase localization and interactions with the BH3 motifs of BCL-2 proteins but not glucose phosphorylation. Together, our work establishes hexokinase-dependent retrotranslocation of truncated BID as a selective protective mechanism against death receptor-induced apoptosis on the mitochondria.
    Keywords:  BCL-2 proteins; BH3-only proteins; apoptosis
  19. Nat Commun. 2021 Aug 13. 12(1): 4932
      BAX is a pro-apoptotic member of the BCL-2 family, which regulates the balance between cellular life and death. During homeostasis, BAX predominantly resides in the cytosol as a latent monomer but, in response to stress, transforms into an oligomeric protein that permeabilizes the mitochondria, leading to apoptosis. Because renegade BAX activation poses a grave risk to the cell, the architecture of BAX must ensure monomeric stability yet enable conformational change upon stress signaling. The specific structural features that afford both stability and dynamic flexibility remain ill-defined and represent a critical control point of BAX regulation. We identify a nexus of interactions involving four residues of the BAX core α5 helix that are individually essential to maintaining the structure and latency of monomeric BAX and are collectively required for dimeric assembly. The dual yet distinct roles of these residues reveals the intricacy of BAX conformational regulation and opportunities for therapeutic modulation.
  20. World J Stem Cells. 2021 Jul 26. 13(7): 737-752
      The mitochondrial unfolded protein response (UPRmt) is an evolutionarily conserved adaptive mechanism for improving cell survival under mitochondrial stress. Under physiological and pathological conditions, the UPRmt is the key to maintaining intracellular homeostasis and proteostasis. Important roles of the UPRmt have been demonstrated in a variety of cell types and in cell development, metabolism, and immune processes. UPRmt dysfunction leads to a variety of pathologies, including cancer, inflammation, neurodegenerative disease, metabolic disease, and immune disease. Stem cells have a special ability to self-renew and differentiate into a variety of somatic cells and have been shown to exist in a variety of tissues. These cells are involved in development, tissue renewal, and some disease processes. Although the roles and regulatory mechanisms of the UPRmt in somatic cells have been widely reported, the roles of the UPRmt in stem cells are not fully understood. The roles and functions of the UPRmt depend on stem cell type. Therefore, this paper summarizes the potential significance of the UPRmt in embryonic stem cells, tissue stem cells, tumor stem cells, and induced pluripotent stem cells. The purpose of this review is to provide new insights into stem cell differentiation and tumor pathogenesis.
    Keywords:  Cancer; Mammals; Mitochondrial unfolded protein response; Stem cells
  21. Sci Rep. 2021 Aug 11. 11(1): 16359
      A better understanding of the secondary injury mechanisms that occur after traumatic spinal cord injury (SCI) is essential for the development of novel neuroprotective strategies linked to the restoration of metabolic deficits. We and others have shown that Ketogenic diet (KD), a high fat, moderate in proteins and low in carbohydrates is neuroprotective and improves behavioural outcomes in rats with acute SCI. Ketones are alternative fuels for mitochondrial ATP generation, and can modulate signaling pathways via targeting specific receptors. Here, we demonstrate that ad libitum administration of KD for 7 days after SCI rescued mitochondrial respiratory capacity, increased parameters of mitochondrial biogenesis, affected the regulation of mitochondrial-related genes, and activated the NRF2-dependent antioxidant pathway. This study demonstrates that KD improves post-SCI metabolism by rescuing mitochondrial function and supports the potential of KD for treatment of acute SCI in humans.
  22. Dev Cell. 2021 Aug 09. pii: S1534-5807(21)00596-7. [Epub ahead of print]56(15): 2137-2139
      Epithelia have an innate yet mysterious capacity to rapidly sense and respond to tissue damage. In this issue of Developmental Cell, O'Connor et al. exploit the genetics of Drosophila to reveal that protease release as a result of tissue injury activates insect cytokines to initiate immediate epithelial repair responses.
  23. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2021 Aug 17. pii: e2026169118. [Epub ahead of print]118(33):
      Hemes are common elements of biological redox cofactor chains involved in rapid electron transfer. While the redox properties of hemes and the stability of the spin state are recognized as key determinants of their function, understanding the molecular basis of control of these properties is challenging. Here, benefiting from the effects of one mitochondrial disease-related point mutation in cytochrome b, we identify a dual role of hydrogen bonding (H-bond) to the propionate group of heme b H of cytochrome bc 1, a common component of energy-conserving systems. We found that replacing conserved glycine with serine in the vicinity of heme b H caused stabilization of this bond, which not only increased the redox potential of the heme but also induced structural and energetic changes in interactions between Fe ion and axial histidine ligands. The latter led to a reversible spin conversion of the oxidized Fe from 1/2 to 5/2, an effect that potentially reduces the electron transfer rate between the heme and its redox partners. We thus propose that H-bond to the propionate group and heme-protein packing contribute to the fine-tuning of the redox potential of heme and maintaining its proper spin state. A subtle balance is needed between these two contributions: While increasing the H-bond stability raises the heme potential, the extent of increase must be limited to maintain the low spin and diamagnetic form of heme. This principle might apply to other native heme proteins and can be exploited in engineering of artificial heme-containing protein maquettes.
    Keywords:  density functional theory; electron paramagnetic resonance; electron transfer; mitochondrial dysfunction; molecular dynamics simulations
  24. Mitochondrion. 2021 Aug 07. pii: S1567-7249(21)00106-9. [Epub ahead of print]
      ATP11p and ATP12p are two nuclear-encoded mitochondrial chaperone proteins required for assembling the F1Fo-ATP synthase F1 sector. ATPAF1 and ATPAF2 are the mammalian homologs of ATP11p and ATP12p. However, the biochemical and physiological relevance of ATPAF1 and ATPAF2 in animal tissues with high energy-dependence remains unclear. To explore the in vivo role of ATP assembly and the effects of ATP synthase deficiency in animals, we have generated knockout (KO) mouse models of these assembly factors using CRISPR/Cas9 technology. While the Atpaf2-KO mice were embryonically lethal, Atpaf1-KO mice grew to adulthood but with smaller body sizes and elevated blood lactate later in life. We specifically investigated how ATPAF1 deficiency may affect ATP synthase biogenesis and mitochondrial respiration in the mouse heart, an organ highly energy-dependent. Western blots and Blue-Native electrophoresis (BN-PAGE) demonstrated a decreased F1 content and ATP synthase dimers in the Atpaf1-KO heart. Mitochondria from ATPAF1-deficient hearts showed ultrastructural abnormalities with condensed degenerated mitochondria, loss of cristae, and impaired respiratory capacity. ATP synthase deficiency also leads to impaired autophagy and mitochondrial dynamic. Consequently, decreased cardiac function was exhibited in adult Atpaf1-KO mice. The results provide strong support that ATPAF1 is essential for ATP synthase assembly and mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation, thus playing a crucial role in maintaining cardiac structure and function in animals.
    Keywords:  ATP synthase assembly; mitochondria; mitochondrial dysfunction; oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS)
  25. Cancer Discov. 2020 Dec;10(12): OF10
      Mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) defects increased intestinal cancer growth in vivo.
  26. iScience. 2021 Aug 20. 24(8): 102869
      Distinct sub-assemblies (modules) of mitochondrial complex I (CI) are assembled with the assistance of CI Assembly Factors (CIAFs) through mechanisms that are incompletely defined. Here, using genetic analyses in Drosophila, we report that when either of the CIAFs - NDUFAF3 or NDUFAF4 - is disrupted, biogenesis of the Q-, N-, and PP-b-modules of CI is impaired. This is due, at least in part, to the compromised integration of NDUFS3 and NDUFS5 into the Q-, and PP-b-modules, respectively, coupled with a destabilization of another CIAF, TIMMDC1, in assembly intermediates. Notably, forced expression of NDUFAF4 rescues the biogenesis defects in the Q-module and some aspects of the defects in the PP-b-module of CI when NDUFAF3 is disrupted. Altogether, our studies furnish new fundamental insights into the mechanism by which NDUFAF3 and NDUFAF4 regulate CI assembly and raises the possibility that certain point mutations in NDUFAF3 may be rescued by overexpression of NDUFAF4.
    Keywords:  metabolic engineering; molecular genetics; molecular mechanism of gene regulation
  27. Nat Aging. 2021 Feb;1(2): 205-217
      Aging is a risk factor for progressive fibrotic disorders involving diverse organ systems, including the lung. Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, an age-associated degenerative lung disorder, is characterized by persistence of apoptosis-resistant myofibroblasts. In this report, we demonstrate that sirtuin-3 (SIRT3), a mitochondrial deacetylase, is downregulated in lungs of IPF human subjects and in mice subjected to lung injury. Over-expression of the SIRT3 cDNA via airway delivery restored capacity for fibrosis resolution in aged mice, in association with activation of the forkhead box transcription factor, FoxO3a, in fibroblasts, upregulation of pro-apoptotic members of the Bcl-2 family, and recovery of apoptosis susceptibility. While transforming growth factor-β1 reduced levels of SIRT3 and FoxO3a in lung fibroblasts, cell non-autonomous effects involving macrophage secreted products were necessary for SIRT3-mediated activation of FoxO3a. Together, these findings reveal a novel role of SIRT3 in pro-resolution macrophage functions that restore susceptibility to apoptosis in fibroblasts via a FoxO3a-dependent mechanism.
  28. iScience. 2021 Aug 20. 24(8): 102833
      Intercellular transmission of the second messenger 2',3'-cGAMP, synthesized by the viral DNA sensor cGAMP synthase (cGAS), is a potent mode of bystander activation during host defense. However, whether this mechanism also contributes to cGAS-dependent autoimmunity remains unknown. Here, using a murine bone marrow transplantation strategy, we demonstrate that, in Trex1 -/- -associated autoimmunity, cGAMP shuttling from radioresistant to immune cells induces NF-κB activation, interferon regulatory factor 3 (IRF3) phosphorylation, and subsequent interferon signaling. cGAMP travel prevented myeloid cell and lymphocyte death, promoting their accumulation in secondary lymphoid tissue. Nonetheless, it did not stimulate B cell differentiation into autoantibody-producing plasmablasts or aberrant T cell priming. Although cGAMP-mediated bystander activation did not induce spontaneous organ disease, it did trigger interface dermatitis after UV light exposure, similar to cutaneous lupus erythematosus. These findings reveal that, in Trex1-deficiency, intercellular cGAMP transfer propagates cGAS signaling and, under conducive conditions, causes tissue inflammation.
    Keywords:  Cell biology; Immune response; Immunity; Immunology
  29. Cancer Discov. 2020 Aug;10(8): 1092
      Transcytosis from cancer cells into fibroblasts triggered the cGAS-STING pathway.