bims-mitdis Biomed News
on Mitochondrial disorders
Issue of 2021‒11‒21
28 papers selected by
Catalina Vasilescu
University of Helsinki

  1. Mol Cell. 2021 Nov 08. pii: S1097-2765(21)00910-2. [Epub ahead of print]
      Mitochondria contain a specific translation machinery for the synthesis of mitochondria-encoded respiratory chain components. Mitochondrial tRNAs (mt-tRNAs) are also generated from the mitochondrial DNA and, similar to their cytoplasmic counterparts, are post-transcriptionally modified. Here, we find that the RNA methyltransferase METTL8 is a mitochondrial protein that facilitates 3-methyl-cytidine (m3C) methylation at position C32 of the mt-tRNASer(UCN) and mt-tRNAThr. METTL8 knockout cells show a reduction in respiratory chain activity, whereas overexpression increases activity. In pancreatic cancer, METTL8 levels are high, which correlates with lower patient survival and an enhanced respiratory chain activity. Mitochondrial ribosome profiling uncovered mitoribosome stalling on mt-tRNASer(UCN)- and mt-tRNAThr-dependent codons. Further analysis of the respiratory chain complexes using mass spectrometry revealed reduced incorporation of the mitochondrially encoded proteins ND6 and ND1 into complex I. The well-balanced translation of mt-tRNASer(UCN)- and mt-tRNAThr-dependent codons through METTL8-mediated m3C32 methylation might, therefore, facilitate the optimal composition and function of the mitochondrial respiratory chain.
    Keywords:  METTL8; RNA modification; m(3)C; mt-tRNA; translation
  2. Case Rep Genet. 2021 ;2021 9969071
      Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) depletion syndromes are a group of autosomal recessive disorders associated with a spectrum of clinical diseases, which include progressive external ophthalmoplegia (PEO). They are caused by variants in nuclear DNA (nDNA) encoded genes, and the gene that encodes for mtDNA polymerase gamma (POLG) is commonly involved. A splice-site mutation in POLG, c.3104+3A > T, was previously identified in three families with findings of PEO, and studies demonstrated this variant to result in skipping of exon 19. Here, we report a 57-year-old female who presented with ophthalmoplegia, ptosis, muscle weakness, and exercise intolerance with a subsequent muscle biopsy demonstrating mitochondrial myopathy on histopathologic evaluation and multiple mtDNA deletions by southern blot analysis. Whole-exome sequencing identified the previously characterized c. 3104+3A > T splice-site mutation in compound heterozygosity with a novel frameshift variant, p.Gly23Serfs ∗ 236 (c.67_88del). mtDNA copy number analysis performed on the patient's muscle showed mtDNA depletion, as expected in a patient with biallelic pathogenic mutations in POLG. This is the first reported case with POLG p.Gly23Serfs ∗ 236, discovered in a patient presenting with features of PEO.
  3. Mov Disord. 2021 Nov 15.
      BACKGROUND: Mitochondrial dysfunction within neurons, particularly those of the substantia nigra, has been well characterized in Parkinson's disease and is considered to be related to the pathogenesis of this disorder. Dysfunction within this important organelle has been suggested to impair neuronal communication and survival; however, the reliance of astrocytes on mitochondria and the impact of their dysfunction on this essential cell type are less well characterized.OBJECTIVE: This study aimed to uncover whether astrocytes harbor oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) deficiencies in Parkinson's disease and whether these deficiencies are more likely to occur in astrocytes closely associated with neurons or those more distant from them.
    METHODS: Postmortem human brain sections from patients with Parkinson's disease were subjected to imaging mass cytometry for individual astrocyte analysis of key OXPHOS proteins across all five complexes.
    RESULTS: We show the variability in the astrocytic expression of mitochondrial proteins between individuals. In addition, we found that there is evidence of deficiencies in respiratory chain subunit expression within these important glia and changes, particularly in mitochondrial mass, associated with Parkinson's disease and that are not simply a consequence of advancing age.
    CONCLUSION: Our data show that astrocytes, like neurons, are susceptible to mitochondrial defects and that these could have an impact on their reactivity and ability to support neurons in Parkinson's disease.
    Keywords:  mitochondria; OXPHOS; imaging mass cytometry; Parkinson's disease
  4. Life Sci Alliance. 2022 Feb;pii: e202101278. [Epub ahead of print]5(2):
      The accumulation of sphingolipid species in the cell contributes to the development of obesity and neurological disease. However, the subcellular localization of sphingolipid-synthesizing enzymes is unclear, limiting the understanding of where and how these lipids accumulate inside the cell and why they are toxic. Here, we show that SPTLC2, a subunit of the serine palmitoyltransferase (SPT) complex, catalyzing the first step in de novo sphingolipid synthesis, localizes dually to the ER and the outer mitochondrial membrane. We demonstrate that mitochondrial SPTLC2 interacts and forms a complex in trans with the ER-localized SPT subunit SPTLC1. Loss of SPTLC2 prevents the synthesis of mitochondrial sphingolipids and protects from palmitate-induced mitochondrial toxicity, a process dependent on mitochondrial ceramides. Our results reveal the in trans assembly of an enzymatic complex at an organellar membrane contact site, providing novel insight into the localization of sphingolipid synthesis and the composition and function of ER-mitochondria contact sites.
  5. Autophagy. 2021 Nov 19. 1-11
      PINK1 accumulation at the outer mitochondrial membrane (OMM) is a key event required to signal depolarized mitochondria to the autophagy machinery. How this early step is, in turn, modulated by autophagy proteins remains less characterized. Here, we show that, upon mitochondrial depolarization, the proautophagic protein AMBRA1 is recruited to the OMM and interacts with PINK1 and ATAD3A, a transmembrane protein that mediates mitochondrial import and degradation of PINK1. Downregulation of AMBRA1 expression results in reduced levels of PINK1 due to its enhanced degradation by the mitochondrial protease LONP1, which leads to a decrease in PINK1-mediated ubiquitin phosphorylation and mitochondrial PRKN/PARKIN recruitment. Notably, ATAD3A silencing rescues defective PINK1 accumulation in AMBRA1-deficient cells upon mitochondrial damage. Overall, our findings underline an upstream contribution of AMBRA1 in the control of PINK1-PRKN mitophagy by interacting with ATAD3A and promoting PINK1 stability. This novel regulatory element may account for changes of PINK1 levels in neuropathological conditions.
    Keywords:  Autophagy; LONP1; PRKN/PARKIN; TOMM complex; ubiquitin phosphorylation
  6. Heart Fail Clin. 2022 Jan;pii: S1551-7136(21)00072-6. [Epub ahead of print]18(1): 51-60
      Mitochondrial diseases (MD) include an heterogenous group of systemic disorders caused by sporadic or inherited mutations in nuclear or mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), causing impairment of oxidative phosphorylation system. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is the dominant pattern of cardiomyopathy in all forms of mtDNA disease, being observed in almost 40% of the patients. Dilated cardiomyopathy, left ventricular noncompaction, and conduction system disturbances have been also reported. In this article, the authors discuss the current clinical knowledge on MD, focusing on diagnosis and management of mitochondrial diseases caused by mtDNA mutations.
    Keywords:  Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy; MELAS syndrome; Mitochondrial diseases; mtDNA
  7. Hum Mol Genet. 2021 Nov 15. pii: ddab329. [Epub ahead of print]
      Mutations in the mitochondrial protein CHCHD2 cause autosomal-dominant PD characterized by the preferential loss of substantia nigra dopamine (DA) neurons. Therefore, understanding the function of CHCHD2 in neurons may provide vital insights into how mitochondrial dysfunction contributes to neurodegeneration in PD. To investigate the normal requirement and function of CHCHD2 in neurons, we first examined CHCHD2 levels, and showed that DA neurons have higher CHCHD2 levels than other neuron types, both in vivo and in co-culture. We then generated mice with either a targeted deletion of CHCHD2 in DA neurons, or a deletion in the brain or total body. All three models were viable, and loss of CHCHD2 in the brain did not cause degeneration of DA neurons. Mice lacking CHCHD2 in DA neurons did display sex-specific changes to locomotor activity, but we did not observe differences in assays of muscle strength, exercise endurance, or motor coordination. Furthermore, mitochondria derived from mice lacking CHCHD2 did not display abnormalities in OXPHOS function. Lastly, resilience to CHCHD2 deletion could not be explained by functional complementation by its paralog CHCHD10, as deletion of both CHCHD10 and CHCHD2 did not cause degeneration of DA neurons in the midbrain. These findings support the hypothesis that pathogenic CHCHD2 mutations cause PD through a toxic gain-of-function, rather than loss-of-function mechanism.
  8. Autophagy. 2021 Nov 15. 1-3
      Mitochondria are critical organelles that maintain cellular metabolism and overall function. The catabolic pathway of autophagy plays a central role in recycling damaged mitochondria. Although the autophagy pathway is indispensable for some cancer cell survival, our latest study shows that rare autophagy-dependent cancer cells can adapt to loss of this core pathway. In the process, the autophagy-deficient cells acquire unique dependencies on alternate forms of mitochondrial homeostasis. These rare autophagy-deficient clones circumvent the lack of canonical autophagy by increasing mitochondrial dynamics and by recycling damaged mitochondria via mitochondrial-derived vesicles (MDVs). These studies are the first to implicate MDVs in cancer cell metabolism although many unanswered questions remain about this non-canonical pathway.
    Keywords:  Cancer; mitochondrial fusion; mitochondrial-derived vesicles; mitophagy; non-canonical autophagy
  9. Am J Med Genet A. 2021 Nov 19.
      NDUFAF5 encodes a Complex I assembly factor which is critical to the modification of a core subunit, NDUFS7, in early Complex I factor assembly. Mutations in NDUFAF5 have been previously shown to cause Complex I deficiency leading to mitochondrial respiratory chain impairment. More than 15 individuals affected by variants in NDUFAF5 have been described; however, there is phenotypic heterogeneity within this cohort. Some individuals display features of classical Leigh syndrome with early onset neurodegeneration whereas others live into early adulthood with progressive neurological deficits. Here, we present a clinical report of a 17-year-old African American individual with compound heterozygous mutations in NDUFAF5. The individual presented with childhood onset bilateral optic atrophy and developed progressive neuromuscular decline with relatively preserved cognition over time.
    Keywords:  Complex I; Leigh syndrome; NDUFAF5; mitochondrial disease
  10. Front Neurosci. 2021 ;15 769331
      Mitochondrial dysfunction plays a significant role in the pathogenesis of Parkinson's disease (PD). Consistent with this concept, loss of function mutations in the serine/threonine kinase- PINK1 (PTEN-induced putative kinase-1) causes autosomal recessive early onset PD. While the functional role of f-PINK1 (full-length PINK1) in clearing dysfunctional mitochondria via mitophagy is extensively documented, our understanding of specific physiological roles that the non-mitochondrial pool of PINK1 imparts in neurons is more limited. PINK1 is proteolytically processed in the intermembrane space and matrix of the mitochondria into functional cleaved products (c-PINK1) that are exported to the cytosol. While it is clear that posttranslational processing of PINK1 depends on the mitochondria's oxidative state and structural integrity, the functional roles of c-PINK1 in modulating neuronal functions are poorly understood. Here, we review the diverse roles played by c-PINK1 in modulating various neuronal functions. Specifically, we describe the non-canonical functional roles of PINK1, including but not limited to: governing mitochondrial movement, neuronal development, neuronal survival, and neurogenesis. We have published that c-PINK1 stimulates neuronal plasticity and differentiation via the PINK1-PKA-BDNF signaling cascade. In addition, we provide insight into how mitochondrial membrane potential-dependent processing of PINK1 confers conditional retrograde signaling functions to PINK1. Further studies delineating the role of c-PINK1 in neurons would increase our understanding regarding the role played by PINK1 in PD pathogenesis.
    Keywords:  BDNF (brain derived neurotrophic factor); PKA signaling; Parkinson’s disease; cleaved PINK1; mitochondrial retrograde signaling; neuronal plasticity and neurogenesis
  11. Protein Cell. 2021 Nov 20.
      In vitro studies have established the prevalent theory that the mitochondrial kinase PINK1 protects neurodegeneration by removing damaged mitochondria in Parkinson's disease (PD). However, difficulty in detecting endogenous PINK1 protein in rodent brains and cell lines has prevented the rigorous investigation of the in vivo role of PINK1. Here we report that PINK1 kinase form is selectively expressed in the human and monkey brains. CRISPR/Cas9-mediated deficiency of PINK1 causes similar neurodegeneration in the brains of fetal and adult monkeys as well as cultured monkey neurons without affecting mitochondrial protein expression and morphology. Importantly, PINK1 mutations in the primate brain and human cells reduce protein phosphorylation that is important for neuronal function and survival. Our findings suggest that PINK1 kinase activity rather than its mitochondrial function is essential for the neuronal survival in the primate brains and that its kinase dysfunction could be involved in the pathogenesis of PD.
    Keywords:  Parkinson’s disease; mitochondria; neurodegeneration; neurogenesis; non-human primates
  12. Free Radic Biol Med. 2021 Nov 12. pii: S0891-5849(21)00812-1. [Epub ahead of print]
      Molecular chaperones are a family of proteins that maintain cellular protein homeostasis through non-covalent peptide folding and quality control mechanisms. The chaperone proteins found within mitochondria play significant protective roles in mitochondrial biogenesis, quality control, and stress response mechanisms. Defective mitochondrial chaperones have been implicated in aging, neurodegeneration, and cancer. In this review, we focus on the two most prominent mitochondrial chaperones: mtHsp60 and mtHsp70. These proteins demonstrate different cellular localization patterns, interact with different targets, and have different functional activities. We discuss the structure and function of these prominent mitochondrial chaperone proteins and give an update on newly discovered regulatory mechanisms and disease implications.
    Keywords:  Mitochondrial chaperone; Mitochondrial homeostasis; Stressresponse; mtHsp60; mtHsp70
  13. EMBO Rep. 2021 Nov 15. e53054
      Cancer cells depend on mitochondria to sustain their increased metabolic need and mitochondria therefore constitute possible targets for cancer treatment. We recently developed small-molecule inhibitors of mitochondrial transcription (IMTs) that selectively impair mitochondrial gene expression. IMTs have potent antitumor properties in vitro and in vivo, without affecting normal tissues. Because therapy-induced resistance is a major constraint to successful cancer therapy, we investigated mechanisms conferring resistance to IMTs. We employed a CRISPR-Cas9 (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats)-(CRISP-associated protein 9) whole-genome screen to determine pathways conferring resistance to acute IMT1 treatment. Loss of genes belonging to von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) and mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1) pathways caused resistance to acute IMT1 treatment and the relevance of these pathways was confirmed by chemical modulation. We also generated cells resistant to chronic IMT treatment to understand responses to persistent mitochondrial gene expression impairment. We report that IMT1-acquired resistance occurs through a compensatory increase of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) expression and cellular metabolites. We found that mitochondrial transcription factor A (TFAM) downregulation and inhibition of mitochondrial translation impaired survival of resistant cells. The identified susceptibility and resistance mechanisms to IMTs may be relevant for different types of mitochondria-targeted therapies.
    Keywords:  CRISPR-Cas9 screen; cancer; chemoresistance; inhibitor of mitochondrial transcription; mtDNA
  14. Cell Biosci. 2021 Nov 17. 11(1): 195
      BACKGROUND: NME6 is a member of the nucleoside diphosphate kinase (NDPK/NME/Nm23) family which has key roles in nucleotide homeostasis, signal transduction, membrane remodeling and metastasis suppression. The well-studied NME1-NME4 proteins are hexameric and catalyze, via a phospho-histidine intermediate, the transfer of the terminal phosphate from (d)NTPs to (d)NDPs (NDP kinase) or proteins (protein histidine kinase). For the NME6, a gene/protein that emerged early in eukaryotic evolution, only scarce and partially inconsistent data are available. Here we aim to clarify and extend our knowledge on the human NME6.RESULTS: We show that NME6 is mostly expressed as a 186 amino acid protein, but that a second albeit much less abundant isoform exists. The recombinant NME6 remains monomeric, and does not assemble into homo-oligomers or hetero-oligomers with NME1-NME4. Consequently, NME6 is unable to catalyze phosphotransfer: it does not generate the phospho-histidine intermediate, and no NDPK activity can be detected. In cells, we could resolve and extend existing contradictory reports by localizing NME6 within mitochondria, largely associated with the mitochondrial inner membrane and matrix space. Overexpressing NME6 reduces ADP-stimulated mitochondrial respiration and complex III abundance, thus linking NME6 to dysfunctional oxidative phosphorylation. However, it did not alter mitochondrial membrane potential, mass, or network characteristics. Our screen for NME6 protein partners revealed its association with NME4 and OPA1, but a direct interaction was observed only with RCC1L, a protein involved in mitochondrial ribosome assembly and mitochondrial translation, and identified as essential for oxidative phosphorylation.
    CONCLUSIONS: NME6, RCC1L and mitoribosomes localize together at the inner membrane/matrix space where NME6, in concert with RCC1L, may be involved in regulation of the mitochondrial translation of essential oxidative phosphorylation subunits. Our findings suggest new functions for NME6, independent of the classical phosphotransfer activity associated with NME proteins.
    Keywords:  Mitochondria; NDP kinase; NME; RCC1L; WBSCR16; nm23
  15. Nat Metab. 2021 Nov;3(11): 1521-1535
      Eukaryotic cells can survive the loss of their mitochondrial genome, but consequently suffer from severe growth defects. 'Petite yeasts', characterized by mitochondrial genome loss, are instrumental for studying mitochondrial function and physiology. However, the molecular cause of their reduced growth rate remains an open question. Here we show that petite cells suffer from an insufficient capacity to synthesize glutamate, glutamine, leucine and arginine, negatively impacting their growth. Using a combination of molecular genetics and omics approaches, we demonstrate the evolution of fast growth overcomes these amino acid deficiencies, by alleviating a perturbation in mitochondrial iron metabolism and by restoring a defect in the mitochondrial tricarboxylic acid cycle, caused by aconitase inhibition. Our results hence explain the slow growth of mitochondrial genome-deficient cells with a partial auxotrophy in four amino acids that results from distorted iron metabolism and an inhibited tricarboxylic acid cycle.
  16. Metabolomics. 2021 Nov 18. 17(12): 101
      INTRODUCTION: The value of metabolomics in multi-systemic mitochondrial disease research has been increasingly recognized, with the ability to investigate a variety of biofluids and tissues considered a particular advantage. Although minimally invasive biofluids are the generally favored sample type, it remains unknown whether systemic metabolomes provide a clear reflection of tissue-specific metabolic alterations.OBJECTIVES: Here we cross-compare urine and tissue-specific metabolomes in the Ndufs4 knockout mouse model of Leigh syndrome-a complex neurometabolic MD defined by progressive focal lesions in specific brain regions-to identify and evaluate the extent of common and unique metabolic alterations on a systemic and brain regional level.
    METHODS: Untargeted and semi-targeted multi-platform metabolomics were performed on urine, four brain regions, and two muscle types of Ndufs4 KO (n≥19) vs wildtype (n≥20) mice.
    RESULTS: Widespread alterations were evident in alanine, aspartate, glutamate, and arginine metabolism in Ndufs4 KO mice; while brain-region specific metabolic signatures include the accumulation of branched-chain amino acids, proline, and glycolytic intermediates. Furthermore, we describe a systemic dysregulation in one-carbon metabolism and the tricarboxylic acid cycle, which was not clearly reflected in the Ndufs4 KO brain.
    CONCLUSION: Our results confirm the value of urinary metabolomics when evaluating MD-associated metabolites, while cautioning against mechanistic studies relying solely on systemic biofluids.
    Keywords:  Brain regions; Complex I deficiency; Leigh syndrome; Metabolomics; Mitochondrial disease; Ndufs4 knockout mice
  17. EMBO J. 2021 Nov 17. e109519
      Mitochondrial ribosomes are complex molecular machines indispensable for respiration. Their assembly involves the import of several dozens of mitochondrial ribosomal proteins (MRPs), encoded in the nuclear genome, into the mitochondrial matrix. Proteomic and structural data as well as computational predictions indicate that up to 25% of yeast MRPs do not have a conventional N-terminal mitochondrial targeting signal (MTS). We experimentally characterized a set of 15 yeast MRPs in vivo and found that five use internal MTSs. Further analysis of a conserved model MRP, Mrp17/bS6m, revealed the identity of the internal targeting signal. Similar to conventional MTS-containing proteins, the internal sequence mediates binding to TOM complexes. The entire sequence of Mrp17 contains positive charges mediating translocation. The fact that these sequence properties could not be reliably predicted by standard methods shows that mitochondrial protein targeting is more versatile than expected. We hypothesize that structural constraints imposed by ribosome assembly interfaces may have disfavored N-terminal presequences and driven the evolution of internal targeting signals in MRPs.
    Keywords:  mitochondria; mitochondrial ribosome; mitochondrial targeting signal; targeting; translocation
  18. Elife. 2021 Nov 15. pii: e71148. [Epub ahead of print]10
      SARM1 is an inducible NAD+ hydrolase that triggers axon loss and neuronal cell death in the injured and diseased nervous system. While SARM1 activation and enzyme function are well defined, the cellular events downstream of SARM1 activity but prior to axonal demise are much less well understood. Defects in calcium, mitochondria, ATP, and membrane homeostasis occur in injured axons, but the relationships among these events have been difficult to disentangle because prior studies analyzed large collections of axons in which cellular events occur asynchronously. Here we used live imaging of mouse sensory neurons with single axon resolution to investigate the cellular events downstream of SARM1 activity. Our studies support a model in which SARM1 NADase activity leads to an ordered sequence of events from loss of cellular ATP, to defects in mitochondrial movement and depolarization, followed by calcium influx, externalization of phosphatidylserine, and loss of membrane permeability prior to catastrophic axonal self-destruction.
    Keywords:  mouse; neuroscience
  19. Free Radic Biol Med. 2021 Nov 11. pii: S0891-5849(21)00794-2. [Epub ahead of print]
      Insulin resistance is one of the earliest pathological features of a suite of diseases including type 2 diabetes collectively referred to as metabolic syndrome. There is a growing body of evidence from both pre-clinical studies and human cohorts indicating that reactive oxygen species, such as the superoxide radical anion and hydrogen peroxide are key players in the development of insulin resistance. Here we review the evidence linking mitochondrial reactive oxygen species generated within mitochondria with insulin resistance in adipose tissue and skeletal muscle, two major insulin sensitive tissues. We outline the relevant mitochondria-derived reactive species, how the mitochondrial redox state is regulated, and methodologies available to measure mitochondrial reactive oxygen species. Importantly, we highlight key experimental issues to be considered when studying the role of mitochondrial reactive oxygen species in insulin resistance. Evaluating the available literature on both mitochondrial reactive oxygen species/redox state and insulin resistance in a variety of biological systems, we conclude that the weight of evidence suggests a likely role for mitochondrial reactive oxygen species in the etiology of insulin resistance in adipose tissue and skeletal muscle. However, major limitations in the methods used to study reactive oxygen species in insulin resistance as well as the lack of data linking mitochondrial reactive oxygen species and cytosolic insulin signaling pathways are significant obstacles in proving the mechanistic link between these two processes. We provide a framework to guide future studies to provide stronger mechanistic information on the link between mitochondrial reactive oxygen species and insulin resistance as understanding the source, localization, nature, and quantity of mitochondrial reactive oxygen species, their targets and downstream signaling pathways may pave the way for important new therapeutic strategies.
    Keywords:  Coenzyme Q; Hydrogen peroxide; Insulin resistance; Mitochondria; Redox signaling; Superoxide radical anion
  20. Nat Metab. 2021 Nov;3(11): 1512-1520
      Mammalian cells require activated folates to generate nucleotides for growth and division. The most abundant circulating folate species is 5-methyl tetrahydrofolate (5-methyl-THF), which is used to synthesize methionine from homocysteine via the cobalamin-dependent enzyme methionine synthase (MTR). Cobalamin deficiency traps folates as 5-methyl-THF. Here, we show using isotope tracing that MTR is only a minor source of methionine in cell culture, tissues or xenografted tumours. Instead, MTR is required for cells to avoid folate trapping and assimilate 5-methyl-THF into other folate species. Under conditions of physiological extracellular folates, genetic MTR knockout in tumour cells leads to folate trapping, purine synthesis stalling, nucleotide depletion and impaired growth in cell culture and as xenografts. These defects are rescued by free folate but not one-carbon unit supplementation. Thus, MTR plays a crucial role in liberating THF for use in one-carbon metabolism.
  21. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2021 ;2021 1341604
      Mitochondria are the main powerhouse of the cell, generating ATP through the tricarboxylic acid cycle (TCA) and oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS), which drives myriad cellular processes. In addition to their role in maintaining bioenergetic homeostasis, changes in mitochondrial metabolism, permeability, and morphology are critical in cell fate decisions and determination. Notably, mitochondrial respiration coupled with the passage of electrons through the electron transport chain (ETC) set up a potential source of reactive oxygen species (ROS). While low to moderate increase in intracellular ROS serves as secondary messenger, an overwhelming increase as a result of either increased production and/or deficient antioxidant defenses is detrimental to biomolecules, cells, and tissues. Since ROS and mitochondria both regulate cell fate, attention has been drawn to their involvement in the various processes of carcinogenesis. To that end, the link between a prooxidant milieu and cell survival and proliferation as well as a switch to mitochondrial OXPHOS associated with recalcitrant cancers provide testimony for the remarkable metabolic plasticity as an important hallmark of cancers. In this review, the regulation of cell redox status by mitochondrial metabolism and its implications for cancer cell fate will be discussed followed by the significance of mitochondria-targeted therapies for cancer.
  22. Nat Commun. 2021 Nov 19. 12(1): 6746
      DNA replication follows a strict spatiotemporal program that intersects with chromatin structure but has a poorly understood genetic basis. To systematically identify genetic regulators of replication timing, we exploited inter-individual variation in human pluripotent stem cells from 349 individuals. We show that the human genome's replication program is broadly encoded in DNA and identify 1,617 cis-acting replication timing quantitative trait loci (rtQTLs) - sequence determinants of replication initiation. rtQTLs function individually, or in combinations of proximal and distal regulators, and are enriched at sites of histone H3 trimethylation of lysines 4, 9, and 36 together with histone hyperacetylation. H3 trimethylation marks are individually repressive yet synergistically associate with early replication. We identify pluripotency-related transcription factors and boundary elements as positive and negative regulators of replication timing, respectively. Taken together, human replication timing is controlled by a multi-layered mechanism with dozens of effectors working combinatorially and following principles analogous to transcription regulation.
  23. J Cell Physiol. 2021 Nov 17.
      Aging is a physiological process that leads to a higher risk for the most devastating diseases. There are a number of theories of human aging proposed, and many of them are directly or indirectly linked to mitochondria. Here, we used mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) from young and older donors to study age-related changes in mitochondrial metabolism. We have found that aging in MSCs is associated with a decrease in mitochondrial membrane potential and lower NADH levels in mitochondria. Mitochondrial DNA content is higher in aged MSCs, but the overall mitochondrial mass is decreased due to increased rates of mitophagy. Despite the higher level of ATP in aged cells, a higher rate of ATP consumption renders them more vulnerable to energy deprivation compared to younger cells. Changes in mitochondrial metabolism in aged MSCs activate the overproduction of reactive oxygen species in mitochondria which is compensated by a higher level of the endogenous antioxidant glutathione. Thus, energy metabolism and redox state are the drivers for the aging of MSCs/mesenchymal stromal cells.
    Keywords:  MSC; aging; bioenergetics; bone marrow; cellular senescence; mitochondria
  24. Nat Rev Neurosci. 2021 Nov 15.
      Synaptic activity imposes large energy demands that are met by local adenosine triphosphate (ATP) synthesis through glycolysis and mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation. ATP drives action potentials, supports synapse assembly and remodelling, and fuels synaptic vesicle filling and recycling, thus sustaining synaptic transmission. Given their polarized morphological features - including long axons and extensive branching in their terminal regions - neurons face exceptional challenges in maintaining presynaptic energy homeostasis, particularly during intensive synaptic activity. Recent studies have started to uncover the mechanisms and signalling pathways involved in activity-dependent and energy-sensitive regulation of presynaptic energetics, or 'synaptoenergetics'. These conceptual advances have established the energetic regulation of synaptic efficacy and plasticity as an exciting research field that is relevant to a range of neurological disorders associated with bioenergetic failure and synaptic dysfunction.
  25. Elife. 2021 Nov 15. pii: e73753. [Epub ahead of print]10
      The most frequent missense mutations in familial Parkinson's disease (PD) occur in the highly conserved LRRK2/PARK8 gene with G2019S mutation. We previously established a fly model of PD carrying the LRRK2-G2019S mutation that exhibited the parkinsonism-like phenotypes. An herbal medicine-Gastrodia elata Blume (GE), has been reported to have neuroprotective effects in toxin-induced PD models. However, the underpinning molecular mechanisms of GE beneficiary to G2019S-induced PD remain unclear. Here, we show that these G2019S flies treated with water extracts of GE (WGE) and its bioactive compounds, gastrodin and 4-HBA, displayed locomotion improvement and dopaminergic neuron protection. WGE suppressed the accumulation and hyperactivation of G2019S proteins in dopaminergic neurons, and activated the antioxidation and detoxification factor Nrf2 mostly in the astrocyte-like and ensheathing glia. Glial activation of Nrf2 antagonizes G2019S-induced Mad/Smad signaling. Moreover, we treated LRRK2-G2019S transgenic mice with WGE and found the locomotion declines, the loss of dopaminergic neurons, and the number of hyperactive microglia were restored. WGE also suppressed the hyperactivation of G2019S proteins and regulated the Smad2/3 pathways in the mice brains. We conclude that WGE prevents locomotion defects and the neuronal loss induced by G2019S mutation via glial Nrf2/Mad signaling, unveiling a potential therapeutic avenue for PD.
    Keywords:  D. melanogaster; mouse; neuroscience
  26. Prog Pediatr Cardiol. 2021 Sep;pii: 101413. [Epub ahead of print]62
      Background: Pediatric-onset cardiomyopathies are rare yet cause significant morbidity and mortality in affected children. Genetic testing has a major role in the clinical evaluation of pediatric-onset cardiomyopathies, and identification of a variant in an associated gene can be used to confirm the clinical diagnosis and exclude syndromic causes that may warrant different treatment strategies. Further, risk-predictive testing of first-degree relatives can assess who is at-risk of disease and requires continued clinical follow-up.Aim of Review: In this review, we seek to describe the current role of genetic testing in the clinical diagnosis and management of patients and families with the five major cardiomyopathies. Further, we highlight the ongoing development of precision-based approaches to diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment.
    Key Scientific Concepts of Review: Emerging application of genotype-phenotype correlations opens the door for genetics to guide a precision medicine-based approach to prognosis and potentially for therapies. Despite advances in our understanding of the genetic etiology of cardiomyopathy and increased accessibility of clinical genetic testing, not all pediatric cardiomyopathy patients have a clear genetic explanation for their disease. Expanded genomic studies are needed to understand the cause of disease in these patients, improve variant classification and genotype-driven prognostic predictions, and ultimately develop truly disease preventing treatment.
    Keywords:  arrhythmogenic cardiomyopathy; dilated cardiomyopathy; hypertrophic cardiomyopathy; non-compaction cardiomyopathy; pediatric cardiomyopathy; restrictive cardiomyopathy
  27. Nat Nanotechnol. 2021 Nov 18.
      Cancer progresses by evading the immune system. Elucidating diverse immune evasion strategies is a critical step in the search for next-generation immunotherapies for cancer. Here we report that cancer cells can hijack the mitochondria from immune cells via physical nanotubes. Mitochondria are essential for metabolism and activation of immune cells. By using field-emission scanning electron microscopy, fluorophore-tagged mitochondrial transfer tracing and metabolic quantification, we demonstrate that the nanotube-mediated transfer of mitochondria from immune cells to cancer cells metabolically empowers the cancer cells and depletes the immune cells. Inhibiting the nanotube assembly machinery significantly reduced mitochondrial transfer and prevented the depletion of immune cells. Combining a farnesyltransferase and geranylgeranyltransferase 1 inhibitor, namely, L-778123, which partially inhibited nanotube formation and mitochondrial transfer, with a programmed cell death protein 1 immune checkpoint inhibitor improved the antitumour outcomes in an aggressive immunocompetent breast cancer model. Nanotube-mediated mitochondrial hijacking can emerge as a novel target for developing next-generation immunotherapy agents for cancer.
  28. Redox Biol. 2021 Nov 12. pii: S2213-2317(21)00348-7. [Epub ahead of print]48 102188
      Selenoproteins are a small family of proteins containing the trace element selenium in form of the rare amino acid selenocysteine (Sec), which is decoded by the UGA codon. In humans, a number of pathogenic variants in genes encoding distinct selenoproteins or selenoprotein biosynthesis factors have been identified. Pathogenic variants in selenocysteine synthase (SEPSECS), which catalyzes the last step in Sec-tRNA[Ser]Sec biosynthesis, were reported in children suffering from progressive cerebello-cerebral atrophy. To understand the pathomechanism associated with SEPSECS deficiency, we generated a novel mouse model recapitulating the respective human pathogenic p.Y334C variant in the murine Sepsecs gene (SepsecsY334C). Unlike in patients, pups homozygous for the p.Y334C variant died perinatally with signs of cardio-respiratory failure. Perinatal death is reminiscent of the Sedaghatian spondylometaphyseal dysplasia disorder in humans, which is caused by pathogenic variants in the gene encoding the selenoprotein and key ferroptosis regulator glutathione peroxidase 4 (GPX4). Protein expression levels of distinct selenoproteins in SepsecsY334C/Y334C mice were found to be generally reduced in brain and isolated cortical neurons, while transcriptomics analysis uncovered an upregulation of NRF2-regulated genes. Crossbreeding of SepsecsY334C/Y334C mice with mice harboring a targeted mutation of the catalytically active Sec to Cys in GPX4 rescued perinatal death of SepsecsY334C/Y334C mice, showing that the cardio-respiratory defects of SepsecsY334C/Y334C mice were caused by the lack of GPX4. Like in SepsecsY334C/Y334C mice, selenoprotein expression levels remained low and NRF2-regulated genes remained highly expressed in these compound mutant mice, indicating that selenium-independent GPX4, along with a sustained antioxidant response are sufficient to compensate for dysfunctional Sec-tRNA[Ser]Sec biosynthesis. Our findings imply that children with pathogenic variants in SEPSECS or GPX4 may even benefit from treatments that incompletely compensate for impaired GPX4 activity.
    Keywords:  GPX4; NRF2; SEPSECS; Sedaghatian disease; Selenoprotein