bims-mitdis Biomed News
on Mitochondrial Disorders
Issue of 2021‒01‒24
thirty-four papers selected by
Catalina Vasilescu
University of Helsinki

  1. EMBO Mol Med. 2021 Jan 20. e13492
      Vegan diets are gaining popularity, also in families with young children. However, the effects of strict plant-based diets on metabolism and micronutrient status of children are unknown. We recruited 40 Finnish children with a median age 3.5 years-vegans, vegetarians, or omnivores from same daycare centers-for a cross-sectional study. They enjoyed nutritionist-planned vegan or omnivore meals in daycare, and the full diets were analyzed with questionnaires and food records. Detailed analysis of serum metabolomics and biomarkers indicated vitamin A insufficiency and border-line sufficient vitamin D in all vegan participants. Their serum total, HDL and LDL cholesterol, essential amino acid, and docosahexaenoic n-3 fatty acid (DHA) levels were markedly low and primary bile acid biosynthesis, and phospholipid balance was distinct from omnivores. Possible combination of low vitamin A and DHA status raise concern for their visual health. Our evidence indicates that (i) vitamin A and D status of vegan children requires special attention; (ii) dietary recommendations for children cannot be extrapolated from adult vegan studies; and (iii) longitudinal studies on infant-onset vegan diets are warranted.
    Keywords:  development; metabolism; nutrition; vegan; vitamin
  2. J Clin Invest. 2021 01 19. pii: 136055. [Epub ahead of print]131(2):
      Mitochondrial disorders represent a large collection of rare syndromes that are difficult to manage both because we do not fully understand biochemical pathogenesis and because we currently lack facile markers of severity. The m.3243A>G variant is the most common heteroplasmic mitochondrial DNA mutation and underlies a spectrum of diseases, notably mitochondrial encephalomyopathy lactic acidosis and stroke-like episodes (MELAS). To identify robust circulating markers of m.3243A>G disease, we first performed discovery proteomics, targeted metabolomics, and untargeted metabolomics on plasma from a deeply phenotyped cohort (102 patients, 32 controls). In a validation phase, we measured concentrations of prioritized metabolites in an independent cohort using distinct methods. We validated 20 analytes (1 protein, 19 metabolites) that distinguish patients with MELAS from controls. The collection includes classic (lactate, alanine) and more recently identified (GDF-15, α-hydroxybutyrate) mitochondrial markers. By mining untargeted mass-spectra we uncovered 3 less well-studied metabolite families: N-lactoyl-amino acids, β-hydroxy acylcarnitines, and β-hydroxy fatty acids. Many of these 20 analytes correlate strongly with established measures of severity, including Karnofsky status, and mechanistically, nearly all markers are attributable to an elevated NADH/NAD+ ratio, or NADH-reductive stress. Our work defines a panel of organelle function tests related to NADH-reductive stress that should enable classification and monitoring of mitochondrial disease.
    Keywords:  Genetics; Intermediary metabolism; Metabolism; Mitochondria; Monogenic diseases; RET; HS6ST1; sE-selectin; integrated stress response; creatine; pyruvate; 2-hydroxybutyrate; alpha-hydroxybutyrate; lactoyl-amino acids; hydroxy-fatty acids; hydroxy-acylcarnitines
  3. J Clin Invest. 2021 Jan 19. pii: 145158. [Epub ahead of print]131(2):
      Advancing proteomic and metabolomic technologies that integrate curated omic databases have crossed a threshold to enable their clinical utility. In this issue of the JCI, Sharma et al. exploit emerging technologies to evaluate whether biomarkers identified in the mitochondrial encephalomyopathy lactic acidosis and stroke-like episodes (MELAS) syndrome could refine disease characterization, uncover pathways to monitor therapeutic efficacy, and/or delineate disease-modifying targets. The authors analyzed blood and urine samples from patients with this genetic mitochondrial disease and elucidated proteins and metabolites related to NADH-reductive stress. These circulating biomarkers have intriguing clinical potential that implicate disease pathophysiology and may prove important biomarkers for the future management of MELAS.
  4. J Clin Invest. 2021 Jan 19. pii: 138267. [Epub ahead of print]
      Leber's hereditary optic neuropathy (LHON) is the most frequent mitochondrial disease and was the first to be genetically defined by a point mutation in the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA). A molecular diagnosis is reached in up to 95%, the vast majority of which are accounted for by three mutations within mitochondrial complex I (CI) subunit encoding genes in the mtDNA (mtLHON). Here, we resolve the enigma of LHON in the absence of pathogenic mtDNA mutations. We describe biallelic mutations in a nuclear encoded gene, DNAJC30, in 33 unsolved patients from 29 families and establish an autosomal recessive mode of inheritance for LHON (arLHON), which to date has been a prime example of a maternally inherited disorder. Remarkably, all hallmarks of mtLHON are recapitulated, including incomplete penetrance, male predominance, and significant idebenone responsivity. Moreover, by tracking protein turnover in patient-derived cell lines and a DNAJC30-knock-out cellular model, we measure reduced turnover of specific CI N-module subunits and a resultant impairment of CI function. This demonstrates DNAJC30 is to be a chaperone protein needed for the efficient exchange of CI subunits exposed to reactive oxygen species and integral to a mitochondrial CI repair mechanism, thereby providing the first example of a disease resulting from impaired exchange of assembled respiratory chain subunits.
    Keywords:  Genetic diseases; Genetics; Neuroscience
  5. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2021 Jan 26. pii: e2022120118. [Epub ahead of print]118(4):
      In mammalian cells, nutrients and growth factors signal through an array of upstream proteins to regulate the mTORC1 growth control pathway. Because the full complement of these proteins has not been systematically identified, we developed a FACS-based CRISPR-Cas9 genetic screening strategy to pinpoint genes that regulate mTORC1 activity. Along with almost all known positive components of the mTORC1 pathway, we identified many genes that impact mTORC1 activity, including DCAF7, CSNK2B, SRSF2, IRS4, CCDC43, and HSD17B10 Using the genome-wide screening data, we generated a focused sublibrary containing single guide RNAs (sgRNAs) targeting hundreds of genes and carried out epistasis screens in cells lacking nutrient- and stress-responsive mTORC1 modulators, including GATOR1, AMPK, GCN2, and ATF4. From these data, we pinpointed mitochondrial function as a particularly important input into mTORC1 signaling. While it is well appreciated that mitochondria signal to mTORC1, the mechanisms are not completely clear. We find that the kinases AMPK and HRI signal, with varying kinetics, mitochondrial distress to mTORC1, and that HRI acts through the ATF4-dependent up-regulation of both Sestrin2 and Redd1. Loss of both AMPK and HRI is sufficient to render mTORC1 signaling largely resistant to mitochondrial dysfunction induced by the ATP synthase inhibitor oligomycin as well as the electron transport chain inhibitors piericidin and antimycin. Taken together, our data reveal a catalog of genes that impact the mTORC1 pathway and clarify the multifaceted ways in which mTORC1 senses mitochondrial dysfunction.
    Keywords:  CRISPR-Cas9 screen; mTORC1; mitochondria
  6. Genome Biol. 2021 Jan 21. 22(1): 40
      CRISPR guide RNA libraries have been iteratively improved to provide increasingly efficient reagents, although their large size is a barrier for many applications. We design an optimised minimal genome-wide human CRISPR-Cas9 library (MinLibCas9) by mining existing large-scale gene loss-of-function datasets, resulting in a greater than 42% reduction in size compared to other CRISPR-Cas9 libraries while preserving assay sensitivity and specificity. MinLibCas9 provides backward compatibility with existing datasets, increases the dynamic range of CRISPR-Cas9 screens and extends their application to complex models and assays.
    Keywords:  CRISPR-Cas9; Genome-wide; KS score; Minimal library; Organoid
  7. Nat Metab. 2021 Jan;3(1): 33-42
      Mitochondrial diseases (MDs) are a heterogeneous group of disorders resulting from mutations in nuclear or mitochondrial DNA genes encoding mitochondrial proteins1,2. MDs cause pathologies with severe tissue damage and ultimately death3,4. There are no cures for MDs and current treatments are only palliative5-7. Here we show that tetracyclines improve fitness of cultured MD cells and ameliorate disease in a mouse model of Leigh syndrome. To identify small molecules that prevent cellular damage and death under nutrient stress conditions, we conduct a chemical high-throughput screen with cells carrying human MD mutations and discover a series of antibiotics that maintain survival of various MD cells. We subsequently show that a sub-library of tetracycline analogues, including doxycycline, rescues cell death and inflammatory signatures in mutant cells through partial and selective inhibition of mitochondrial translation, resulting in an ATF4-independent mitohormetic response. Doxycycline treatment strongly promotes fitness and survival of Ndufs4-/- mice, a preclinical Leigh syndrome mouse model8. A proteomic analysis of brain tissue reveals that doxycycline treatment largely prevents neuronal death and the accumulation of neuroimmune and inflammatory proteins in Ndufs4-/- mice, indicating a potential causal role for these proteins in the brain pathology. Our findings suggest that tetracyclines deserve further evaluation as potential drugs for the treatment of MDs.
  8. Acta Myol. 2020 Dec;39(4): 245-265
      Distal myopathies are genetic primary muscle disorders with a prominent weakness at onset in hands and/or feet. The age of onset (from early childhood to adulthood), the distribution of muscle weakness (upper versus lower limbs) and the histological findings (ranging from nonspecific myopathic changes to myofibrillar disarrays and rimmed vacuoles) are extremely variable. However, despite being characterized by a wide clinical and genetic heterogeneity, the distal myopathies are a category of muscular dystrophies: genetic diseases with progressive loss of muscle fibers. Myopathic congenital arthrogryposis is also a form of distal myopathy usually caused by focal amyoplasia. Massive parallel sequencing has further expanded the long list of genes associated with a distal myopathy, and contributed identifying as distal myopathy-causative rare variants in genes more often related with other skeletal or cardiac muscle diseases. Currently, almost 20 genes (ACTN2, CAV3, CRYAB, DNAJB6, DNM2, FLNC, HNRNPA1, HSPB8, KHLH9, LDB3, MATR3, MB, MYOT, PLIN4, TIA1, VCP, NOTCH2NLC, LRP12, GIPS1) have been associated with an autosomal dominant form of distal myopathy. Pathogenic changes in four genes (ADSSL, ANO5, DYSF, GNE) cause an autosomal recessive form; and disease-causing variants in five genes (DES, MYH7, NEB, RYR1 and TTN) result either in a dominant or in a recessive distal myopathy. Finally, a digenic mechanism, underlying a Welander-like form of distal myopathy, has been recently elucidated. Rare pathogenic mutations in SQSTM1, previously identified with a bone disease (Paget disease), unexpectedly cause a distal myopathy when combined with a common polymorphism in TIA1. The present review aims at describing the genetic basis of distal myopathy and at summarizing the clinical features of the different forms described so far.
    Keywords:  distal myopathy; myofibrillar myopathy; rimmed vacuoles
  9. Nat Genet. 2021 Jan 18.
      Admixed populations are routinely excluded from genomic studies due to concerns over population structure. Here, we present a statistical framework and software package, Tractor, to facilitate the inclusion of admixed individuals in association studies by leveraging local ancestry. We test Tractor with simulated and empirical two-way admixed African-European cohorts. Tractor generates accurate ancestry-specific effect-size estimates and P values, can boost genome-wide association study (GWAS) power and improves the resolution of association signals. Using a local ancestry-aware regression model, we replicate known hits for blood lipids, discover novel hits missed by standard GWAS and localize signals closer to putative causal variants.
  10. J Genet Couns. 2021 Jan 19.
      Mitochondrial disorders affect at least 1 in 5,000 individuals worldwide and are often incurable and fatal. Mitochondrial replacement therapy (MRT) is an in vitro fertilization technique used to prevent the transmission of mitochondrial disorders. Currently, MRT is the only approach that provides mothers who carry a pathogenic variant in their mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), the opportunity to have a biological child without a mitochondrial disease. MRT involves the combination of nuclear DNA from the egg of the carrier mother and the cytoplasm from an oocyte donor, which contains healthy mitochondria. While MRT was approved for use in the UK in 2015, the ban on congressional funding for research on 'heritable genetic modification' has made MRT unavailable within the US borders. This survey-based study aimed to describe genetic counselors' experience, knowledge, and opinions about MRT. Additionally, we also assessed whether genetic counselors' comfort discussing MRT with patients, and feelings about clinical use of MRT in the United States changed after providing information about MRT compared with baseline. Responses were received from 139 genetic counselors in North America. Findings indicate low awareness and knowledge about MRT among participants. However, more participants expressed comfort with discussing MRT with patients and more participants were able to form opinions about statements about MRT after they were provided with information about MRT. This study is the first to assess genetic counselors' opinions toward MRT and suggests the need for more education about novel technologies such as MRT among genetic counselors.
    Keywords:  genetic counselors; mitochondria; mitochondrial disorders; mitochondrial replacement therapy
  11. Transl Stroke Res. 2021 Jan 21.
      Mitochondria can be released by astrocytes as part of a help-me signaling process in stroke. In this study, we investigated the molecular mechanisms that underlie mitochondria secretion, redox status, and functional regulation in the extracellular environment. Exposure of rat primary astrocytes to NAD or cADPR elicited an increase in mitochondrial calcium through ryanodine receptor (RyR) in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). Importantly, CD38 stimulation with NAD accelerated ATP production along with increasing glutathione reductase (GR) and dipicolinic acid (DPA) in intracellular mitochondria. When RyR was blocked by Dantrolene, all effects were clearly diminished. Mitochondrial functional assay showed that these activated mitochondria appeared to be resistant to H2O2 exposure and sustained mitochondrial membrane potential, while inhibition of RyR resulted in disrupted membrane potential under oxidative stress. Finally, a gain- or loss-of-function assay demonstrated that treatment with DPA in control mitochondria preserved GR contents and increased mitochondrial membrane potential, whereas inhibiting GR with carmustine decreased membrane potentials in extracellular mitochondria released from astrocytes. Collectively, these data suggest that ER-mitochondrial interaction mediated by CD38 stimulation may support mitochondrial energy production and redox homeostasis during the mode of mitochondrial transfer from astrocytes.
    Keywords:  Astrocytes; CD38; Dipicolinic acid; Endoplasmic reticulum; Glutathione reductase; Mitochondria; Ryanodine receptor
  12. Brain. 2021 Jan 18. pii: awaa418. [Epub ahead of print]
      The von Willebrand Factor A domain containing 1 protein, encoded by VWA1, is an extracellular matrix protein expressed in muscle and peripheral nerve. It interacts with collagen VI and perlecan, two proteins that are affected in hereditary neuromuscular disorders. Lack of VWA1 is known to compromise peripheral nerves in a Vwa1 knock-out mouse model. Exome sequencing led us to identify bi-allelic loss of function variants in VWA1 as the molecular cause underlying a so far genetically undefined neuromuscular disorder. We detected six different truncating variants in 15 affected individuals from six families of German, Arabic, and Roma descent. Disease manifested in childhood or adulthood with proximal and distal muscle weakness predominantly of the lower limbs. Myopathological and neurophysiological findings were indicative of combined neurogenic and myopathic pathology. Early childhood foot deformity was frequent, but no sensory signs were observed. Our findings establish VWA1 as a new disease gene confidently implicated in this autosomal recessive neuromyopathic condition presenting with child-/adult-onset muscle weakness as a key clinical feature.
    Keywords:  VWA1; exome sequencing; mutations; neuromyopathy
  13. Genet Med. 2021 Jan 20.
      PURPOSE: Neurodevelopmental disabilities are common and genetically heterogeneous. We identified a homozygous variant in the gene encoding UFM1-specific peptidase 2 (UFSP2), which participates in the UFMylation pathway of protein modification. UFSP2 variants are implicated in autosomal dominant skeletal dysplasias, but not neurodevelopmental disorders. Homozygosity for the variant occurred in eight children from four South Asian families with neurodevelopmental delay and epilepsy. We describe the clinical consequences of this variant and its effect on UFMylation.METHODS: Exome sequencing was used to detect potentially pathogenic variants and identify shared regions of homozygosity. Immunoblotting assessed protein expression and post-translational modifications in patient-derived fibroblasts.
    RESULTS: The variant (c.344T>A; p.V115E) is rare and alters a conserved residue in UFSP2. Immunoblotting in patient-derived fibroblasts revealed reduced UFSP2 abundance and increased abundance of UFMylated targets, indicating the variant may impair de-UFMylation rather than UFMylation. Reconstituting patient-derived fibroblasts with wild-type UFSP2 reduced UFMylation marks. Analysis of UFSP2's structure indicated that variants observed in skeletal disorders localize to the catalytic domain, whereas V115 resides in an N-terminal domain possibly involved in substrate binding.
    CONCLUSION: Different UFSP2 variants cause markedly different diseases, with homozygosity for V115E causing a severe syndrome of neurodevelopmental disability and epilepsy.
  14. Parkinsonism Relat Disord. 2021 Jan 11. pii: S1353-8020(21)00005-5. [Epub ahead of print]83 13-14
    Keywords:  Energy requirements; MPAN; Multisystem disease; NBIA; Respiratory chain; mtDNA
  15. Lab Chip. 2021 Jan 22.
      Human organoids, self-organized and differentiated from homogenous pluripotent stem cells (PSC), replicate the key structural and functional characteristics of their in vivo counterparts. Despite the rapid advancement of organoid technology and its diverse applications, major limitations in achieving truly in vivo like functionality have been the lack of matured structural organization and constraints on tissue size, both of which are direct consequences of lacking a functional vasculature. In the absence of perfusable vessels, a core region within organoids quickly becomes necrotic during development due to increased metabolic demands that cannot be met by diffusion alone. Thus, incorporating functional vasculature in organoid models is indispensable for their growth in excess of several hundred microns and maturaturation beyond the embryonic and fetal phase. Here, we review recent advancements in vascularizing organoids and engineering in vitro capillary beds, and further explore strategies to integrate them on a microfluidic based platform, aiming for establishing perfused vasculature throughout organoids in vitro.
  16. J Inherit Metab Dis. 2020 Dec 15.
      Primary mitochondrial diseases (PMD) are inherited diseases that cause dysfunctional mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation, leading to diverse multisystem diseases and substantially impaired quality of life. PMD treatment currently comprises symptom management, with an unmet need for therapies targeting the causative mitochondrial defects. Molecules which selective target mitochondria have been proposed as potential treatment options in PMD but have met with limited success. We have previously shown in animal models that mitochondrial dysfunction caused by the disease process could be prevented and/or reversed by selective targeting of the "gasotransmitter" hydrogen sulfide (H2 S) to mitochondria using a novel compound, AP39. Therefore, in this study we investigated whether AP39 could also restore mitochondrial function in PMD models where mitochondrial dysfunction was the cause of the disease pathology using C. elegans. We characterised several PMD mutant C. elegans strains for reduced survival, movement and impaired cellular bioenergetics and treated each with AP39. In animals with widespread electron transport chain deficiency (gfm-1[ok3372]), AP39 (100 nM) restored ATP levels, but had no effect on survival or movement. However, in a complex I mutant (nuo-4[ok2533]), a Leigh syndrome orthologue, AP39 significantly reversed the decline in ATP levels, preserved mitochondrial membrane potential and increased movement and survival. For the first time, this study provides proof-of-principle evidence suggesting that selective targeting of mitochondria with H2 S could represent a novel drug discovery approach to delay, prevent and possibly reverse mitochondrial decline in PMD and related disorders.
    Keywords:  ATP; Leigh syndrome; bioenergetics; complex I; disulfide; electron transport chain; metabolic disease; mitochondrial dysfunction; persulfide
  17. Nat Commun. 2021 01 20. 12(1): 479
      As organisms develop, individual cells generate mitochondria to fulfill physiological requirements. However, it remains unknown how mitochondrial network expansion is scaled to cell growth. The mitochondrial unfolded protein response (UPRmt) is a signaling pathway mediated by the transcription factor ATFS-1 which harbors a mitochondrial targeting sequence (MTS). Here, using the model organism Caenorhabditis elegans we demonstrate that ATFS-1 mediates an adaptable mitochondrial network expansion program that is active throughout normal development. Mitochondrial network expansion requires the relatively inefficient MTS in ATFS-1, which allows the transcription factor to be responsive to parameters that impact protein import capacity of the mitochondrial network. Increasing the strength of the ATFS-1 MTS impairs UPRmt activity by increasing accumulation within mitochondria. Manipulations of TORC1 activity increase or decrease ATFS-1 activity in a manner that correlates with protein synthesis. Lastly, expression of mitochondrial-targeted GFP is sufficient to expand the muscle cell mitochondrial network in an ATFS-1-dependent manner. We propose that mitochondrial network expansion during development is an emergent property of the synthesis of highly expressed mitochondrial proteins that exclude ATFS-1 from mitochondrial import, causing UPRmt activation.
  18. J Biol Chem. 2020 Dec 13. pii: S0021-9258(20)00163-5. [Epub ahead of print]296 100169
      The transcription factor nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) regulates the expression of genes involved in antioxidant defenses to modulate fundamental cellular processes such as mitochondrial function and GSH metabolism. Previous reports proposed that mitochondrial reactive oxygen species production and disruption of the GSH pool activate the Nrf2 pathway, suggesting that Nrf2 senses mitochondrial redox signals and/or oxidative damage and signals to the nucleus to respond appropriately. However, until now, it has not been possible to disentangle the overlapping effects of mitochondrial superoxide/hydrogen peroxide production as a redox signal from changes to mitochondrial thiol homeostasis on Nrf2. Recently, we developed mitochondria-targeted reagents that can independently induce mitochondrial superoxide and hydrogen peroxide production mitoParaquat (MitoPQ) or selectively disrupt mitochondrial thiol homeostasis MitoChlorodinitrobenzoic acid (MitoCDNB). Using these reagents, here we have determined how enhanced generation of mitochondrial superoxide and hydrogen peroxide or disruption of mitochondrial thiol homeostasis affects activation of the Nrf2 system in cells, which was assessed by the Nrf2 protein level, nuclear translocation, and expression of its target genes. We found that selective disruption of the mitochondrial GSH pool and inhibition of its thioredoxin system by MitoCDNB led to Nrf2 activation, whereas using MitoPQ to enhance the production of mitochondrial superoxide and hydrogen peroxide alone did not. We further showed that Nrf2 activation by MitoCDNB requires cysteine sensors of Kelch-like ECH-associated protein 1 (Keap1). These findings provide important information on how disruption to mitochondrial redox homeostasis is sensed in the cytoplasm and signaled to the nucleus.
    Keywords:  MitoCDNB; MitoPQ; Nrf2; energy metabolism; reactive oxygen species (ROS); redox signaling; thiol oxidation
  19. Rev Med Interne. 2021 Jan 14. pii: S0248-8663(20)30855-9. [Epub ahead of print]
      Mitochondrial diseases, characterized by a respiratory chain deficiency, are considered as rare genetic diseases but are the most frequent among inherited metabolic disorders. The complexity of their diagnosis is due to the dual control by the mitochondrial (mtDNA) and the nuclear DNA (nDNA), and to the heterogeneous clinical presentations; illegitimate association of symptoms should prompt the clinician to evoke a mitochondrial disorder. The goals of this review are to provide clinicians a better understanding of mitochondrial diseases in adults. After a brief overview on the mitochondrial origin and functions, especially their role in the energy metabolism, we will describe the genetic bases for mitochondrial diseases, then we will describe the various clinical presentations with the different affected tissues as well as the main symptoms encountered. Even if the new sequencing approaches have profoundly changed the diagnostic process, the brain imaging, the biological, the biochemical, and the histological explorations are still important highlighting the need for a multidisciplinary approach. While for most of the patients with a mitochondrial disease, only supportive and symptomatic therapies are available, recent advances in the understanding of the pathophysiological mechanisms have been made and new therapies are being developed and are evaluated in human clinical trials.
    Keywords:  ADN mitochondrial; ADN nucléaire; Maladie mitochondriale; Maladies métaboliques; Maladies neuro-musculaires; Metabolic disorder; Mitochondrial DNA; Mitochondrial disease; Neuromuscular disease; Nuclear DNA
  20. J Biol Chem. 2020 Dec 18. pii: S0021-9258(17)50657-2. [Epub ahead of print]295(51): 17802-17815
      Faithful replication of the mitochondrial genome is carried out by a set of key nuclear-encoded proteins. DNA polymerase γ is a core component of the mtDNA replisome and the only replicative DNA polymerase localized to mitochondria. The asynchronous mechanism of mtDNA replication predicts that the replication machinery encounters dsDNA and unique physical barriers such as structured genes, G-quadruplexes, and other obstacles. In vitro experiments here provide evidence that the polymerase γ heterotrimer is well-adapted to efficiently synthesize DNA, despite the presence of many naturally occurring roadblocks. However, we identified a specific G-quadruplex-forming sequence at the heavy-strand promoter (HSP1) that has the potential to cause significant stalling of mtDNA replication. Furthermore, this structured region of DNA corresponds to the break site for a large (3,895 bp) deletion observed in mitochondrial disease patients. The presence of this deletion in humans correlates with UV exposure, and we have found that efficiency of polymerase γ DNA synthesis is reduced after this quadruplex is exposed to UV in vitro.
    Keywords:  DNA polymerase γ; DNA replication; DNA structure; G-quadruplex; heavy-strand promoter; mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA); mitochondrial DNA damage; mtDNA deletion
  21. Mol Genet Metab Rep. 2021 Mar;26 100699
      Iron‑sulfur clusters (FeSCs) are vital components of a variety of essential proteins, most prominently within mitochondrial respiratory chain complexes I-III; Fe-S assembly and distribution is performed via multi-step pathways. Variants affecting several proteins in these pathways have been described in genetic disorders, including severe mitochondrial disease. Here we describe a Christian Arab kindred with two infants that died due to mitochondrial disorder involving Fe-S containing respiratory chain complexes and a third sibling who survived the initial crisis. A homozygous missense variant in NFS1: c.215G>A; p.Arg72Gln was detected by whole exome sequencing. The NFS1 gene encodes a cysteine desulfurase, which, in complex with ISD11 and ACP, initiates the first step of Fe-S formation. Arginine at position 72 plays a role in NFS1-ISD11 complex formation; therefore, its substitution with glutamine is expected to affect complex stability and function. Interestingly, this is the only pathogenic variant ever reported in the NFS1 gene, previously described once in an Old Order Mennonite family presenting a similar phenotype with intra-familial variability in patient outcomes. Analysis of datasets from both populations did not show a common haplotype, suggesting this variant is a recurrent de novo variant. Our report of the second case of NFS1-related mitochondrial disease corroborates the pathogenicity of this recurring variant and implicates it as a hot-spot variant. While the genetic resolution allows for prenatal diagnosis for the family, it also raises critical clinical questions regarding follow-up and possible treatment options of severely affected and healthy homozygous individuals with mitochondrial co-factor therapy or cysteine supplementation.
    Keywords:  Hot-spot variant; Intra-familial variability; Iron‑sulfur clusters; Mitochondrial disease; NFS1
  22. Nat Protoc. 2021 Jan 18.
      Genome editing has transformed the life sciences and has exciting prospects for use in treating genetic diseases. Our laboratory developed base editing to enable precise and efficient genome editing while minimizing undesired byproducts and toxicity associated with double-stranded DNA breaks. Adenine and cytosine base editors mediate targeted A•T-to-G•C or C•G-to-T•A base pair changes, respectively, which can theoretically address most human disease-associated single-nucleotide polymorphisms. Current base editors can achieve high editing efficiencies-for example, approaching 100% in cultured mammalian cells or 70% in adult mouse neurons in vivo. Since their initial description, a large set of base editor variants have been developed with different on-target and off-target editing characteristics. Here, we describe a protocol for using base editing in cultured mammalian cells. We provide guidelines for choosing target sites, appropriate base editor variants and delivery strategies to best suit a desired application. We further describe standard base-editing experiments in HEK293T cells, along with computational analysis of base-editing outcomes using CRISPResso2. Beginning with target DNA site selection, base-editing experiments in mammalian cells can typically be completed within 1-3 weeks and require only standard molecular biology techniques and readily available plasmid constructs.
  23. J Neurol. 2021 Jan 23.
      BACKGROUND: Mitochondrial disorders are clinically complex and have highly variable phenotypes among all inherited disorders. Mutations in mitochon drial DNA (mtDNA) and nuclear genome or both have been reported in mitochondrial diseases suggesting common pathophysiological pathways. Considering the clinical heterogeneity of mitochondrial encephalopathy, lactic acidosis and stroke-like episodes (MELAS) phenotype including focal neurological deficits, it is important to look beyond mitochondrial gene mutation.METHODS: The clinical, histopathological, biochemical analysis for OXPHOS enzyme activity, and electron microscopic, and neuroimaging analysis was performed to diagnose 11 patients with MELAS syndrome with a multisystem presentation. In addition, whole exome sequencing (WES) and whole mitochondrial genome sequencing were performed to identify nuclear and mitochondrial mutations.
    RESULTS: Analysis of whole mtDNA sequence identified classical pathogenic mutation m.3243A > G in seven out of 11 patients. Exome sequencing identified pathogenic mutation in several nuclear genes associated with mitochondrial encephalopathy, sensorineural hearing loss, diabetes, epilepsy, seizure and cardiomyopathy (POLG, DGUOK, SUCLG2, TRNT1, LOXHD1, KCNQ1, KCNQ2, NEUROD1, MYH7) that may contribute to classical mitochondrial disease phenotype alone or in combination with m.3243A > G mutation.
    CONCLUSION: Individuals with MELAS exhibit clinical phenotypes with varying degree of severity affecting multiple systems including auditory, visual, cardiovascular, endocrine, and nervous system. This is the first report to show that nuclear genetic factors influence the clinical outcomes/manifestations of MELAS subjects alone or in combination with m.3243A > G mutation.
    Keywords:  CNV; MELAS; Mutations; Nuclear genome; mtDNA
  24. BMC Genomics. 2021 Jan 19. 22(1): 62
      BACKGROUND: Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) is the fundament of various studies, providing insights into questions from biology and medicine. Nevertheless, integrating data from different experimental backgrounds can introduce strong biases. In order to methodically investigate the magnitude of systematic errors in single nucleotide variant calls, we performed a cross-sectional observational study on a genomic cohort of 99 subjects each sequenced via (i) Illumina HiSeq X, (ii) Illumina HiSeq, and (iii) Complete Genomics and processed with the respective bioinformatic pipeline. We also repeated variant calling for the Illumina cohorts with GATK, which allowed us to investigate the effect of the bioinformatics analysis strategy separately from the sequencing platform's impact.RESULTS: The number of detected variants/variant classes per individual was highly dependent on the experimental setup. We observed a statistically significant overrepresentation of variants uniquely called by a single setup, indicating potential systematic biases. Insertion/deletion polymorphisms (indels) were associated with decreased concordance compared to single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). The discrepancies in indel absolute numbers were particularly prominent in introns, Alu elements, simple repeats, and regions with medium GC content. Notably, reprocessing sequencing data following the best practice recommendations of GATK considerably improved concordance between the respective setups.
    CONCLUSION: We provide empirical evidence of systematic heterogeneity in variant calls between alternative experimental and data analysis setups. Furthermore, our results demonstrate the benefit of reprocessing genomic data with harmonized pipelines when integrating data from different studies.
    Keywords:  Aging; Complete genomics; GATK; Healthy aging; Illumina; Longevity; Next-generation sequencing (NGS) technologies; Platform-biases; Wellderly
  25. J Biol Chem. 2020 Dec 25. pii: S0021-9258(17)50708-5. [Epub ahead of print]295(52): 18406-18425
      Mitochondria are specialized compartments that produce requisite ATP to fuel cellular functions and serve as centers of metabolite processing, cellular signaling, and apoptosis. To accomplish these roles, mitochondria rely on the genetic information in their small genome (mitochondrial DNA) and the nucleus. A growing appreciation for mitochondria's role in a myriad of human diseases, including inherited genetic disorders, degenerative diseases, inflammation, and cancer, has fueled the study of biochemical mechanisms that control mitochondrial function. The mitochondrial transcriptional machinery is different from nuclear machinery. The in vitro re-constituted transcriptional complexes of Saccharomyces cerevisiae (yeast) and humans, aided with high-resolution structures and biochemical characterizations, have provided a deeper understanding of the mechanism and regulation of mitochondrial DNA transcription. In this review, we will discuss recent advances in the structure and mechanism of mitochondrial transcription initiation. We will follow up with recent discoveries and formative findings regarding the regulatory events that control mitochondrial DNA transcription, focusing on those involved in cross-talk between the mitochondria and nucleus.
    Keywords:  DNA transcription; RNA polymerase; enzyme mechanism; enzyme structure; human mitochondrial RNA polymerase; mitochondria; mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA); mitochondrial DNA transcription; mitochondrial gene regulation; structure-function; transcription; transcription initiation factors; transcription regulation; yeast mitochondrial RNA polymerase
  26. PLoS One. 2021 ;16(1): e0245614
      αKlotho is primarily known to express as a transmembrane protein. Proteolytic cleavage results in shedding of the extracellular domain which enters systemic circulation. A truncated form of αKlotho resulting from alternative splicing of the αKLOTHO transcript exists and is believed to be secreted, thereby also entering systemic circulation. Existing ELISA methods fail to distinguish between the two circulating isoforms resulting in inconsistencies in assessing circulating αKlotho levels. We have exploited a unique 15aa peptide sequence present in the alternatively spliced secreted isoform to generate an antibody and show that it is able to specifically detect only the secreted Klotho isoform in human plasma. This finding will facilitate in distinguishing the levels of different circulating Klotho isoforms in health and disease and enhance their potential to serve as a biomarker for CKD and other conditions.
  27. Metab Brain Dis. 2021 Jan 20.
      Isolated defects in the mitochondrial respiratory chain complex II (CII; succinate-ubiquinone oxidoreductase) are extremely rare and mainly result from bi-allelic mutations in one of the nuclear encoded subunits: SDHA, SDHB and SDHD, which comprise CII and the assembly CII factor SDHAF1. We report an adolescent female who presented with global developmental delay, intellectual disability and childhood onset progressive bilateral optic atrophy. Whole exome sequencing of the patient and her unaffected parents identified the novel heterozygous de novo variant c.1984C > T [NM_004168.4] in the SDHA gene. Biochemical assessment of CII in the patient's derived fibroblasts and lymphocytes displayed considerably decreased CII residual activity compared with normal controls, when normalized to the integral mitochondrial enzyme citrate synthase. Protein modeling of the consequent p.Arg662Cys variant [NP-004159.2] suggested that this substitution will compromise the structural integrity of the FAD-binding protein at the C-terminus that will ultimately impair the FAD binding to SDHA, thus decreasing the entire CII activity. Our study emphasizes the role of certain heterozygous SDHA mutations in a distinct clinical phenotype dominated by optic atrophy and neurological impairment. This is the second mutation that has been reported to cause this phenotype. Furthermore, it adds developmental delay and cognitive disability to the expanding spectrum of the disorder. We propose to add SDHA to next generation sequencing gene panels of optic atrophy.
    Keywords:  Mitochondrial disease; Optic atrophy; Respiratory chain complex; SDHA gene
  28. Autophagy. 2021 Jan 19. 1-17
      Genotoxic insult causes nuclear and mitochondrial DNA damages with macroautophagy/autophagy induction. The role of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) damage in the requirement of autophagy for nuclear DNA (nDNA) stability is unclear. Using site-specific DNA damage approaches, we show that specific nDNA damage alone does not require autophagy for repair unless in the presence of mtDNA damage. We provide evidence that after IR exposure-induced mtDNA and nDNA damages, autophagy suppression causes non-apoptotic mitochondrial permeability, by which mitochondrial ENDOG (endonuclease G) is released and translocated to nuclei to sustain nDNA damage in a TET (tet methylcytosine dioxygenase)-dependent manner. Furthermore, blocking lysosome function is sufficient to increase the amount of mtDNA leakage to the cytosol, accompanied by ENDOG-free mitochondrial puncta formation with concurrent ENDOG nuclear accumulation. We proposed that autophagy eliminates the mitochondria specified by mtDNA damage-driven mitochondrial permeability to prevent ENDOG-mediated genome instability. Finally, we showed that HBx, a hepatitis B viral protein capable of suppressing autophagy, also causes mitochondrial permeability-dependent ENDOG mis-localization in nuclei and is linked to hepatitis B virus (HBV)-mediated hepatocellular carcinoma development. Abbreviations: 3-MA: 3-methyladenine; 5-hmC: 5-hydroxymethylcytosine; ACTB: actin beta; ATG5: autophagy related 5; ATM: ATM serine/threonine kinase; DFFB/CAD: DNA fragmentation factor subunit beta; cmtDNA: cytosolic mitochondrial DNA; ConA: concanamycin A; CQ: chloroquine; CsA: cyclosporin A; Dox: doxycycline; DSB: double-strand break; ENDOG: endonuclease G; GFP: green fluorescent protein; Gy: gray; H2AX: H2A.X variant histone; HBV: hepatitis B virus; HBx: hepatitis B virus X protein; HCC: hepatocellular carcinoma; I-PpoI: intron-encoded endonuclease; IR: ionizing radiation; MAP1LC3/LC3: microtubule associated protein 1 light chain 3; MOMP: mitochondrial outer membrane permeability; mPTP: mitochondrial permeability transition pore; mtDNA: mitochondrial DNA; nDNA: nuclear DNA; 4-OHT: 4-hydroxytamoxifen; rDNA: ribosomal DNA; ROS: reactive oxygen species; SQSTM1/p62: sequestosome 1; TET: tet methylcytosine dioxygenase; TFAM: transcription factor A, mitochondrial; TOMM20: translocase of outer mitochondrial membrane 20; VDAC: voltage dependent anion channel.
    Keywords:  Autophagy; TET; endonuclease G; genome instability; mitochondrial DNA; mitochondrial permeability
  29. Front Cell Dev Biol. 2020 ;8 615461
      The underlying pathophysiology of Parkinson's disease is complex, but mitochondrial dysfunction has an established and prominent role. This is supported by an already large and rapidly growing body of evidence showing that the role of mitochondrial (dys)function is central and multifaceted. However, there are clear gaps in knowledge, including the dilemma of explaining why inherited mitochondriopathies do not usually present with parkinsonian symptoms. Many aspects of mitochondrial function are potential therapeutic targets, including reactive oxygen species production, mitophagy, mitochondrial biogenesis, mitochondrial dynamics and trafficking, mitochondrial metal ion homeostasis, sirtuins, and endoplasmic reticulum links with mitochondria. Potential therapeutic strategies may also incorporate exercise, microRNAs, mitochondrial transplantation, stem cell therapies, and photobiomodulation. Despite multiple studies adopting numerous treatment strategies, clinical trials to date have generally failed to show benefit. To overcome this hurdle, more accurate biomarkers of mitochondrial dysfunction are required to detect subtle beneficial effects. Furthermore, selecting study participants early in the disease course, studying them for suitable durations, and stratifying them according to genetic and neuroimaging findings may increase the likelihood of successful clinical trials. Moreover, treatments involving combined approaches will likely better address the complexity of mitochondrial dysfunction in Parkinson's disease. Therefore, selecting the right patients, at the right time, and using targeted combination treatments, may offer the best chance for development of an effective novel therapy targeting mitochondrial dysfunction in Parkinson's disease.
    Keywords:  Parkinson's disease; mitochondria; mitochondrial dysfunction; neurodegeneration; therapy
  30. RNA Biol. 2021 Jan 21. 1-5
      With advancing age, human muscle loses strength and function, but the molecular causes of these losses are unknown. Skeletal muscle shows an age-dependent decline in the levels of different proteins, but whether such decline is associated with reduced translation has not been studied. To address this gap of knowledge, we used the technique of ribosome profiling to study translation in muscle from middle-aged and old individuals. Using ribosome occupancy as a measure of translation status, several mRNAs showed differential translation with age. Older age was associated with lower translation of myosin and titin isoforms and more broadly with the translation of proteins involved in oxidative phosphorylation encoded by the mitochondrial genome. Based on our findings, we propose that mitochondrial proteins are less translated in old skeletal muscle.
    Keywords:  Ageing; ribosome profiling; skeletal muscle; translation regulation