bims-mitdis Biomed News
on Mitochondrial disorders
Issue of 2024‒06‒02
thirty-one papers selected by
Catalina Vasilescu, Helmholz Munich

  1. Biochem J. 2024 Jun 05. 481(11): 683-715
      Human mitochondria possess a multi-copy circular genome, mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), that is essential for cellular energy metabolism. The number of copies of mtDNA per cell, and their integrity, are maintained by nuclear-encoded mtDNA replication and repair machineries. Aberrant mtDNA replication and mtDNA breakage are believed to cause deletions within mtDNA. The genomic location and breakpoint sequences of these deletions show similar patterns across various inherited and acquired diseases, and are also observed during normal ageing, suggesting a common mechanism of deletion formation. However, an ongoing debate over the mechanism by which mtDNA replicates has made it difficult to develop clear and testable models for how mtDNA rearrangements arise and propagate at a molecular and cellular level. These deletions may impair energy metabolism if present in a high proportion of the mtDNA copies within the cell, and can be seen in primary mitochondrial diseases, either in sporadic cases or caused by autosomal variants in nuclear-encoded mtDNA maintenance genes. These mitochondrial diseases have diverse genetic causes and multiple modes of inheritance, and show notoriously broad clinical heterogeneity with complex tissue specificities, which further makes establishing genotype-phenotype relationships challenging. In this review, we aim to cover our current understanding of how the human mitochondrial genome is replicated, the mechanisms by which mtDNA replication and repair can lead to mtDNA instability in the form of large-scale rearrangements, how rearranged mtDNAs subsequently accumulate within cells, and the pathological consequences when this occurs.
    Keywords:  DNA damage; DNA replication and recombination; mitochondrial dysfunction; mtDNA
  2. BMC Genomics. 2024 May 31. 25(1): 538
      BACKGROUND: Mitochondrial diseases (MDs) can be caused by single nucleotide variants (SNVs) and structural variants (SVs) in the mitochondrial genome (mtDNA). Presently, identifying deletions in small to medium-sized fragments and accurately detecting low-percentage variants remains challenging due to the limitations of next-generation sequencing (NGS).METHODS: In this study, we integrated targeted long-range polymerase chain reaction (LR-PCR) and PacBio HiFi sequencing to analyze 34 participants, including 28 patients and 6 controls. Of these, 17 samples were subjected to both targeted LR-PCR and to compare the mtDNA variant detection efficacy.
    RESULTS: Among the 28 patients tested by long-read sequencing (LRS), 2 patients were found positive for the m.3243 A > G hotspot variant, and 20 patients exhibited single or multiple deletion variants with a proportion exceeding 4%. Comparison between the results of LRS and NGS revealed that both methods exhibited similar efficacy in detecting SNVs exceeding 5%. However, LRS outperformed NGS in detecting SNVs with a ratio below 5%. As for SVs, LRS identified single or multiple deletions in 13 out of 17 cases, whereas NGS only detected single deletions in 8 cases. Furthermore, deletions identified by LRS were validated by Sanger sequencing and quantified in single muscle fibers using real-time PCR. Notably, LRS also effectively and accurately identified secondary mtDNA deletions in idiopathic inflammatory myopathies (IIMs).
    CONCLUSIONS: LRS outperforms NGS in detecting various types of SNVs and SVs in mtDNA, including those with low frequencies. Our research is a significant advancement in medical comprehension and will provide profound insights into genetics.
    Keywords:  HiFi sequencing; Mitochondrial disease; SNV; SV; mtDNA
  3. Autophagy. 2024 May 31.
      Mitochondria undergo fission and fusion, and their coordinated balance is crucial for maintaining mitochondrial homeostasis. In yeast, the dynamin-related protein Dnm1 is a mitochondrial fission factor acting from outside the mitochondria. We recently reported the mitochondrial intermembrane space protein Atg44/mitofissin/Mdi1/Mco8 as a novel fission factor, but the relationship between Atg44 and Dnm1 remains elusive. Here, we show that Atg44 is required to complete Dnm1-mediated mitochondrial fission under homeostatic conditions. Atg44-deficient cells often exhibit enlarged mitochondria with accumulated Dnm1 and rosary-like mitochondria with Dnm1 foci at constriction sites. These mitochondrial constriction sites retain the continuity of both the outer and inner membranes within an extremely confined space, indicating that Dnm1 is unable to complete mitochondrial fission without Atg44. Moreover, accumulated Atg44 proteins are observed at mitochondrial constriction sites. These findings suggest that Atg44 and Dnm1 cooperatively execute mitochondrial fission from inside and outside the mitochondria, respectively.
    Keywords:  Atg44; Dnm1; mitochondrial fission; mitofissin; mitophagy; yeast
  4. bioRxiv. 2024 May 13. pii: 2024.05.13.593977. [Epub ahead of print]
      DddA-derived cytosine base editors (DdCBEs) enable the targeted introduction of C•G-to-T•A conversions in mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA). DdCBEs are often deployed as pairs, with each arm comprised of a transcription activator-like effector (TALE), a split double-stranded DNA deaminase half, and a uracil glycosylase inhibitor. This pioneering technology has helped improve our understanding of cellular processes involving mtDNA and has paved the way for the development of models and therapies for genetic disorders caused by pathogenic mtDNA variants. Nonetheless, given the intrinsic properties of TALE proteins, several target sites in human mtDNA remain out of reach to DdCBEs and other TALE-based technologies. Specifically, due to the conventional requirement for a thymine immediately upstream of the TALE target sequences (i.e., the 5'-T constraint), over 150 loci in the human mitochondrial genome are presumed to be inaccessible to DdCBEs. Previous attempts at circumventing this constraint, either by developing monomeric DdCBEs or utilizing DNA-binding domains alternative to TALEs, have resulted in suboptimal specificity profiles with reduced therapeutic potential. Here, aiming to challenge and elucidate the relevance of the 5'-T constraint in the context of DdCBE-mediated mtDNA editing, and to expand the range of motifs that are editable by this technology, we generated αDdCBEs that contain modified TALE proteins engineered to recognize all 5' bases. Notably, 5'-T-noncompliant, canonical DdCBEs efficiently edited mtDNA at diverse loci. However, DdCBEs were frequently outperformed by αDdCBEs, which consistently displayed significant improvements in activity and specificity, regardless of the 5'-most bases of their TALE binding sites. Furthermore, we showed that αDdCBEs are compatible with DddA tox and its derivatives DddA6, and DddA11, and we validated TALE shifting with αDdCBEs as an effective approach to optimize base editing outcomes at a single target site. Overall, αDdCBEs enable efficient, specific, and unconstrained mitochondrial base editing.
  5. FASEB J. 2024 May 31. 38(10): e23703
      Renal tubules are featured with copious mitochondria and robust transport activity. Mutations in mitochondrial genes cause congenital renal tubulopathies, and changes in transport activity affect mitochondrial morphology, suggesting mitochondrial function and transport activity are tightly coupled. Current methods of using bulk kidney tissues or cultured cells to study mitochondrial bioenergetics are limited. Here, we optimized an extracellular flux analysis (EFA) to study mitochondrial respiration and energy metabolism using microdissected mouse renal tubule segments. EFA detects mitochondrial respiration and glycolysis by measuring oxygen consumption and extracellular acidification rates, respectively. We show that both measurements positively correlate with sample sizes of a few centimeter-length renal tubules. The thick ascending limbs (TALs) and distal convoluted tubules (DCTs) critically utilize glucose/pyruvate as energy substrates, whereas proximal tubules (PTs) are significantly much less so. Acute inhibition of TALs' transport activity by ouabain treatment reduces basal and ATP-linked mitochondrial respiration. Chronic inhibition of transport activity by 2-week furosemide treatment or deletion of with-no-lysine kinase 4 (Wnk4) decreases maximal mitochondrial capacity. In addition, chronic inhibition downregulates mitochondrial DNA mass and mitochondrial length/density in TALs and DCTs. Conversely, gain-of-function Wnk4 mutation increases maximal mitochondrial capacity and mitochondrial length/density without increasing mitochondrial DNA mass. In conclusion, EFA is a sensitive and reliable method to investigate mitochondrial functions in isolated renal tubules. Transport activity tightly regulates mitochondrial bioenergetics and biogenesis to meet the energy demand in renal tubules. The system allows future investigation into whether and how mitochondria contribute to tubular remodeling adapted to changes in transport activity.
    Keywords:  distal convoluted tubule; extracellular flux analysis; glycolysis; mitochondrial respiration; thick ascending limb; transport activity
  6. Cell Rep. 2024 May 29. pii: S2211-1247(24)00622-3. [Epub ahead of print]43(6): 114294
      Ubiquitination of mitochondrial proteins provides a basis for the downstream recruitment of mitophagy machinery, yet whether ubiquitination of the machinery itself contributes to mitophagy is unknown. Here, we show that K63-linked polyubiquitination of the key mitophagy regulator TBK1 is essential for its mitophagy functions. This modification is catalyzed by the ubiquitin ligase TRIM5α and is required for TBK1 to interact with and activate a set of ubiquitin-binding autophagy adaptors including NDP52, p62/SQSTM1, and NBR1. Autophagy adaptors, along with TRIM27, enable TRIM5α to engage with TBK1 following mitochondrial damage. TRIM5α's ubiquitin ligase activity is required for the accumulation of active TBK1 on damaged mitochondria in Parkin-dependent and Parkin-independent mitophagy pathways. Our data support a model in which TRIM5α provides a mitochondria-localized, ubiquitin-based, self-amplifying assembly platform for TBK1 and mitophagy adaptors that is ultimately necessary for the recruitment of the core autophagy machinery.
    Keywords:  CP: Cell biology; NBR1; NDP52; Optineurin; TAX1BP1; TBK1; TRIM27/RFP; autophagy; p62; tripartite motif; ubiquitin ligase
  7. Sci Adv. 2024 May 31. 10(22): eadn2050
      Transporting and translating mRNAs in axons is crucial for neuronal viability. Local synthesis of nuclear-encoded mitochondrial proteins protects long-lived axonal mitochondria from damage; however, the regulatory factors involved are largely unknown. We show that CLUH, which binds mRNAs encoding mitochondrial proteins, prevents peripheral neuropathy and motor deficits in the mouse. CLUH is enriched in the growth cone of developing spinal motoneurons and is required for their growth. The lack of CLUH affects the abundance of target mRNAs and the corresponding mitochondrial proteins more prominently in axons, leading to ATP deficits in the growth cone. CLUH interacts with ribosomal subunits, translation initiation, and ribosome recycling components and preserves axonal translation. Overexpression of the ribosome recycling factor ABCE1 rescues the mRNA and translation defects, as well as the growth cone size, in CLUH-deficient motoneurons. Thus, we demonstrate a role for CLUH in mitochondrial quality control and translational regulation in axons, which is essential for their development and long-term integrity and function.
  8. Adv Clin Chem. 2024 ;pii: S0065-2423(24)00068-4. [Epub ahead of print]121 334-365
      Mitochondria, as an endosymbiont of eukaryotic cells, controls multiple cellular activities, including respiration, reactive oxygen species production, fatty acid synthesis, and death. Though the majority of functional mitochondrial proteins are translated through a nucleus-controlled process, very few of them (∼10%) are translated within mitochondria through their own machinery. Germline and somatic mutations in mitochondrial and nuclear DNA significantly impact mitochondrial homeostasis and function. Such modifications disturbing mitochondrial biogenesis, metabolism, or mitophagy eventually resulted in cellular pathophysiology. In this chapter, we discussed the impact of mitochondria and its dysfunction on several non-communicable diseases like cancer, diabetes, neurodegenerative, and cardiovascular problems. Mitochondrial dysfunction and its outcome could be screened by currently available omics-based techniques, flow cytometry, and high-resolution imaging. Such characterization could be evaluated as potential biomarkers to assess the disease burden and prognosis.
    Keywords:  Biomarkers; Cancer; Cardio-vascular disease; Diabetes; Mitochondria; Neurodegenerative disease; Non-communicable disease
  9. bioRxiv. 2024 May 14. pii: 2024.05.09.593392. [Epub ahead of print]
      Mitochondria carry out essential functions in eukaryotic cells. The mitochondrial genome encodes factors critical to support oxidative phosphorylation and mitochondrial protein import necessary for these functions. However, organisms like budding yeast can readily lose their mitochondrial genome, yielding respiration-deficient petite mutants. The fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe is petite-negative, but some nuclear mutations enable the loss of its mitochondrial genome. Here, we characterize the classical petite -positive mutation ptp1-1 as a loss of function allele of the proteasome 19S regulatory subunit component mts4/rpn1 , involved in the Ubiquitin-dependent degradation pathway. The mutation results in an altered oxidative stress response, with increased levels of oxidized glutathione, and increased levels of mitochondrial and cytoplasmic chaperones. We propose that Ubiquitin-proteasome regulation of chaperones involved in the Unfolded Protein Response and mitochondrial protein import underlies petite-negativity in fission yeast.
  10. bioRxiv. 2024 May 13. pii: 2024.05.10.593630. [Epub ahead of print]
      Maintenance of protein homeostasis is necessary for cell viability and depends on a complex network of chaperones and co-chaperones, including the heat-shock protein 70 (Hsp70) system. In human mitochondria, mitochondrial Hsp70 (mortalin) and the nucleotide exchange factor (GrpEL1) work synergistically to stabilize proteins, assemble protein complexes, and facilitate protein import. However, our understanding of the molecular mechanisms guiding these processes is hampered by limited structural information. To elucidate these mechanistic details, we used cryoEM to determine the first structures of full-length human mortalin-GrpEL1 complexes in previously unobserved states. Our structures and molecular dynamics simulations allow us to delineate specific roles for mortalin-GrpEL1 interfaces and to identify steps in GrpEL1-mediated nucleotide and substrate release by mortalin. Subsequent analyses reveal conserved mechanisms across bacteria and mammals and facilitate a complete understanding of sequential nucleotide and substrate release for the Hsp70 chaperone system.
  11. Neurosci Insights. 2024 ;19 26331055241254846
      Parkinson's Disease (PD) occurs as a result of the progressive loss of dopaminergic neurons within the substantia nigra causing motor and non-motor symptoms and has become more prevalent within the last several decades. With mitochondria being essential to cellular survival, mitochondrial dysfunction contributes to the disease progression by increasing neuron loss through (1) insufficient ATP production and (2) reactive oxygen species generation. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small molecules located throughout cells that regulate gene expression, particularly mitochondrial function. Through their own dysregulation, miRNAs offset the delicate balance of mitochondrial function by altering or dysregulating the expression of proteins, increasing neuroinflammation, increasing retention of toxic substances, limiting the removal of reactive oxygen species, and preventing mitophagy. Improper mitochondrial function places cells at increased risk of apoptosis, a major concern in individuals with PD due to their reduced number of dopaminergic neurons. This article has identified the 17 most promising mitochondrial associated miRNAs within PD: hsa-miR-4639-5p, miR-376a, miR-205, miR-421, miR-34b/c, miR-150, miR-7, miR-132, miR-17-5p, miR-20a, miR-93, miR-106, miR-181, miR-193b, miR-128, miR-181a, and miR-124-3p. These miRNAs alter mitochondrial function and synaptic energy by impeding normal gene expression when up or downregulated. However, there is limited research regarding mitochondria-localized miRNAs that are typically seen in other diseases. Mitochondria-localized miRNA may have a greater impact on mitochondrial dysfunction due to their proximity. Further research is needed to determine the location of these miRNAs and to better understand their regulatory capabilities on mitochondrial and synaptic function within PD.
    Keywords:  Parkinson’s disease; alpha-synuclein; mitochondrial dysfunction; mitochondrial microRNAs
  12. Autophagy. 2024 May 27. 1-16
      The selective removal of dysfunctional mitochondria, a process termed mitophagy, is critical for cellular health and impairments have been linked to aging, Parkinson disease, and other neurodegenerative conditions. A central mitophagy pathway is orchestrated by the ubiquitin (Ub) kinase PINK1 together with the E3 Ub ligase PRKN/Parkin. The decoration of damaged mitochondrial domains with phosphorylated Ub (p-S65-Ub) mediates their elimination though the autophagy system. As such p-S65-Ub has emerged as a highly specific and quantitative marker of mitochondrial damage with significant disease relevance. Existing p-S65-Ub antibodies have been successfully employed as research tools in a range of applications including western blot, immunocytochemistry, immunohistochemistry, and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. However, physiological levels of p-S65-Ub in the absence of exogenous stress are very low, therefore difficult to detect and require reliable and ultrasensitive methods. Here we generated and characterized a collection of novel recombinant, rabbit monoclonal p-S65-Ub antibodies with high specificity and affinity in certain applications that allow the field to better understand the molecular mechanisms and disease relevance of PINK1-PRKN signaling. These antibodies may also serve as novel diagnostic or prognostic tools to monitor mitochondrial damage in various clinical and pathological specimens.Abbreviations: AD: Alzheimer disease; CCCP: carbonyl cyanide 3-chlorophenylhydrazone; ELISA: enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay; HEK293E cell: human embryonic kidney E cell; ICC: immunocytochemistry; IHC: immunohistochemistry: KO: knockout; LoB: limit of blank; LoD: limit of detection; LoQ: limit of quantification; MEF: mouse embryonic fibroblast; MSD: Meso Scale Discovery; n.s.: non-significant; nonTg: non-transgenic; PBMC: peripheral blood mononuclear cell; PD: Parkinson disease; p-S65-PRKN: phosphorylated PRKN at serine 65; p-S65-Ub: phosphorylated Ub at serine 65; Ub: ubiquitin; WT: wild-type.
    Keywords:  Autophagy; PINK1; Parkinson disease; mitochondria; mitophagy; ubiquitin
  13. Front Cell Dev Biol. 2024 ;12 1346778
      Background: Mitochondrial health has gained attention in a number of diseases, both as an indicator of disease state and as a potential therapeutic target. The quality and amount of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and RNA (mtRNA) can be important indicators of mitochondrial and cell health, but are difficult to measure in complex tissues.Methods: mtDNA and mtRNA in zebrafish retina samples were fluorescently labeled using RNAscope™ in situ hybridization, then mitochondria were stained using immunohistochemistry. Pretreatment with RNase was used for validation. Confocal images were collected and analyzed, and relative amounts of mtDNA and mtRNA were reported. Findings regarding mtDNA were confirmed using qPCR.
    Results: Signals from probes detecting mtDNA and mtRNA were localized to mitochondria, and were differentially sensitive to RNase. This labeling strategy allows for quantification of relative mtDNA and mtRNA levels in individual cells. As a demonstration of the method in a complex tissue, single photoreceptors in zebrafish retina were analyzed for mtDNA and mtRNA content. An increase in mtRNA but not mtDNA coincides with proliferation of mitochondria at night in cones. A similar trend was measured in rods.
    Discussion: Mitochondrial gene expression is an important component of cell adaptations to disease, stress, or aging. This method enables the study of mtDNA and mtRNA in single cells of an intact, complex tissue. The protocol presented here uses commercially-available tools, and is adaptable to a range of species and tissue types.
    Keywords:  RNAscope; mitochondria; mtDNA; mtRNA; multiplex imaging; photoreceptor; spatial biology; zebrafish
  14. Cell Death Dis. 2024 May 25. 15(5): 361
      Disease models of neurodegeneration with brain iron accumulation (NBIA) offer the possibility to explore the relationship between iron dyshomeostasis and neurodegeneration. We analyzed hiPS-derived astrocytes from PANK2-associated neurodegeneration (PKAN), an NBIA disease characterized by progressive neurodegeneration and high iron accumulation in the globus pallidus. Previous data indicated that PKAN astrocytes exhibit alterations in iron metabolism, general impairment of constitutive endosomal trafficking, mitochondrial dysfunction and acquired neurotoxic features. Here, we performed a more in-depth analysis of the interactions between endocytic vesicles and mitochondria via superresolution microscopy experiments. A significantly lower number of transferrin-enriched vesicles were in contact with mitochondria in PKAN cells than in control cells, confirming the impaired intracellular fate of cargo endosomes. The investigation of cytosolic and mitochondrial iron parameters indicated that mitochondrial iron availability was substantially lower in PKAN cells compared to that in the controls. In addition, PKAN astrocytes exhibited defects in tubulin acetylation/phosphorylation, which might be responsible for unregulated vesicular dynamics and inappropriate iron delivery to mitochondria. Thus, the impairment of iron incorporation into these organelles seems to be the cause of cell iron delocalization, resulting in cytosolic iron overload and mitochondrial iron deficiency, triggering mitochondrial dysfunction. Overall, the data elucidate the mechanism of iron accumulation in CoA deficiency, highlighting the importance of mitochondrial iron deficiency in the pathogenesis of disease.
  15. Nat Nanotechnol. 2024 May 27.
      Mitochondrial transplantation is an important therapeutic strategy for restoring energy supply in patients with ischaemic heart disease (IHD); however, it is limited by the invasiveness of the transplantation method and loss of mitochondrial activity. Here we report successful mitochondrial transplantation by oral administration for IHD therapy. A nitric-oxide-releasing nanomotor is modified on the mitochondria surface to obtain nanomotorized mitochondria with chemotactic targeting ability towards damaged heart tissue due to nanomotor action. The nanomotorized mitochondria are packaged in enteric capsules to protect them from gastric acid erosion. After oral delivery the mitochondria are released in the intestine, where they are quickly absorbed by intestinal cells and secreted into the bloodstream, allowing delivery to the damaged heart tissue. The regulation of disease microenvironment by the nanomotorized mitochondria can not only achieve rapid uptake and high retention of mitochondria by damaged cardiomyocytes but also maintains high activity of the transplanted mitochondria. Furthermore, results from animal models of IHD indicate that the accumulated nanomotorized mitochondria in the damaged heart tissue can regulate cardiac metabolism at the transcriptional level, thus preventing IHD progression. This strategy has the potential to change the therapeutic strategy used to treat IHD.
  16. Nature. 2024 May 29.
      Mitochondria play a pivotal part in ATP energy production through oxidative phosphorylation, which occurs within the inner membrane through a series of respiratory complexes1-4. Despite extensive in vitro structural studies, determining the atomic details of their molecular mechanisms in physiological states remains a major challenge, primarily because of loss of the native environment during purification. Here we directly image porcine mitochondria using an in situ cryo-electron microscopy approach. This enables us to determine the structures of various high-order assemblies of respiratory supercomplexes in their native states. We identify four main supercomplex organizations: I1III2IV1, I1III2IV2, I2III2IV2 and I2III4IV2, which potentially expand into higher-order arrays on the inner membranes. These diverse supercomplexes are largely formed by 'protein-lipids-protein' interactions, which in turn have a substantial impact on the local geometry of the surrounding membranes. Our in situ structures also capture numerous reactive intermediates within these respiratory supercomplexes, shedding light on the dynamic processes of the ubiquinone/ubiquinol exchange mechanism in complex I and the Q-cycle in complex III. Structural comparison of supercomplexes from mitochondria treated under different conditions indicates a possible correlation between conformational states of complexes I and III, probably in response to environmental changes. By preserving the native membrane environment, our approach enables structural studies of mitochondrial respiratory supercomplexes in reaction at high resolution across multiple scales, from atomic-level details to the broader subcellular context.
  17. Life Sci Alliance. 2024 Aug;pii: e202402608. [Epub ahead of print]7(8):
      In cells, mitochondria undergo constant fusion and fission. An essential factor for fission is the mammalian dynamin-related protein 1 (Drp1). Dysregulation of Drp1 is associated with neurodegenerative diseases including Parkinson's, cardiovascular diseases and cancer, making Drp1 a pivotal biomarker for monitoring mitochondrial status and potential pathophysiological conditions. Here, we developed nanobodies (Nbs) as versatile binding molecules for proteomics, advanced microscopy and live cell imaging of Drp1. To specifically enrich endogenous Drp1 with interacting proteins for proteomics, we functionalized high-affinity Nbs into advanced capture matrices. Furthermore, we detected Drp1 by bivalent Nbs combined with site-directed fluorophore labelling in super-resolution STORM microscopy. For real-time imaging of Drp1, we intracellularly expressed fluorescently labelled Nbs, so-called chromobodies (Cbs). To improve the signal-to-noise ratio, we further converted Cbs into a "turnover-accelerated" format. With these imaging probes, we visualized the dynamics of endogenous Drp1 upon compound-induced mitochondrial fission in living cells. Considering the wide range of research applications, the presented Nb toolset will open up new possibilities for advanced functional studies of Drp1 in disease-relevant models.
  18. Chem Rev. 2024 May 27.
      Transfer ribonucleic acid (tRNA) therapeutics will provide personalized and mutation specific medicines to treat human genetic diseases for which no cures currently exist. The tRNAs are a family of adaptor molecules that interpret the nucleic acid sequences in our genes into the amino acid sequences of proteins that dictate cell function. Humans encode more than 600 tRNA genes. Interestingly, even healthy individuals contain some mutant tRNAs that make mistakes. Missense suppressor tRNAs insert the wrong amino acid in proteins, and nonsense suppressor tRNAs read through premature stop signals to generate full length proteins. Mutations that underlie many human diseases, including neurodegenerative diseases, cancers, and diverse rare genetic disorders, result from missense or nonsense mutations. Thus, specific tRNA variants can be strategically deployed as therapeutic agents to correct genetic defects. We review the mechanisms of tRNA therapeutic activity, the nature of the therapeutic window for nonsense and missense suppression as well as wild-type tRNA supplementation. We discuss the challenges and promises of delivering tRNAs as synthetic RNAs or as gene therapies. Together, tRNA medicines will provide novel treatments for common and rare genetic diseases in humans.
  19. Trends Endocrinol Metab. 2024 May 27. pii: S1043-2760(24)00119-X. [Epub ahead of print]
      Mitochondrial genetic defects caused by whole-body mutations typically affect different tissues in different ways. Elucidating the molecular determinants that cause certain cell types to be primarily affected has become a critical research target within the field. We propose a differential activation of the integrated stress response as a potential contributor to this tissue specificity.
  20. bioRxiv. 2024 May 14. pii: 2024.05.13.594000. [Epub ahead of print]
      Vesicle-associated membrane protein-associated protein-B (VAPB) is an ER membrane bound protein. VAPB P56S causes a dominant, familial form of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), however, the mechanism through which this mutation causes motor neuron (MN) disease remains unknown. Using inducible wild type (WT) and VAPB P56S expressing iPSC-derived MNs we show that VAPB P56S, but not WT, protein decreased neuronal firing and mitochondrial-ER contact (MERC) with an associated age-dependent decrease in mitochondrial membrane potential (MMP); all typical characteristics of MN-disease. We further show that VAPB P56S expressing iPSC-derived MNs have enhanced age-dependent sensitivity to ER stress. We identified elevated expression of the master regulator of the Integrated Stress Response (ISR) marker ATF4 and decreased protein synthesis in the VAPB P56S iPSC-derived MNs. Chemical inhibition of ISR with the compound, ISRIB, rescued all MN disease phenotype in VAPB P56S MNs. Thus, our results not only support ISR inhibition as a potential therapeutic target for ALS patients, but also provides evidence to pathogenesis.
  21. Mitochondrion. 2024 May 24. pii: S1567-7249(24)00063-1. [Epub ahead of print]78 101905
      Pathogenic ACAD9 variants cause complex I deficiency. Patients presenting in infancy unresponsive to riboflavin have high mortality. A six-month-old infant presented with riboflavin unresponsive lactic acidosis and life-threatening cardiomyopathy. Treatment with high dose bezafibrate and nicotinamide riboside resulted in marked clinical improvement including reduced lactate and NT-pro-brain type natriuretic peptide levels, with stabilized echocardiographic measures. After a long stable period, the child succumbed from cardiac failure with infection at 10.5 months. Therapy was well tolerated. Peak bezafibrate levels exceeded its EC50. The clinical improvement with this treatment illustrates its potential, but weak PPAR agonist activity of bezafibrate limited its efficacy.
    Keywords:  ACAD9 disorder; Bezafibrate; Cardiomyopathy; Mitochondrial disease; Nicotinamide riboside; Treatment; complex I deficiency
  22. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2024 May 30.
      One of the functions of peroxisomes is the oxidation of fatty acids (FAs). The importance of this function in our lives is evidenced by the presence of peroxisomal disorders caused by the genetic deletion of proteins involved in these processes. Unlike mitochondrial oxidation, peroxisomal oxidation is not directly linked to ATP production. What is the role of FA oxidation in peroxisomes? Recent studies have revealed that peroxisomes supply the building blocks for lipid synthesis in the endoplasmic reticulum and facilitate intracellular carbon recycling for membrane quality control. Accumulation of very long-chain fatty acids (VLCFAs), which are peroxisomal substrates, is a diagnostic marker in many types of peroxisomal disorders. However, the relationship between VLCFA accumulation and various symptoms of these disorders remains unclear. Recently, we developed a method for solubilizing VLCFAs in aqueous media and found that VLCFA toxicity could be mitigated by oleic acid replenishment. In this chapter, we present the physiological role of peroxisomal FA oxidation and the knowledge obtained from VLCFA-accumulating peroxisome-deficient cells.
    Keywords:  Cell toxicity; Oleic acid; Peroxisomal disorder; Very long-chain fatty acid; α-Oxidation; β-Oxidation
  23. bioRxiv. 2024 May 25. pii: 2024.05.11.593693. [Epub ahead of print]
      Mitochondrial diseases (MtD) represent a significant public health challenge due to their heterogenous clinical presentation, often severe and progressive symptoms, and the lack of effective therapies. Environmental exposures, such bacterial and viral infection, can further compromise mitochondrial function and exacerbate the progression of MtD. Infections in MtD patients more frequently progress to sepsis, pneumonia, and other detrimental inflammatory endpoints. However, the underlying immune alterations that enhance immunopathology in MtD remain unclear, constituting a key gap in knowledge that complicates treatment and increases mortality in this population. Here we employ in vitro and in vivo approaches to clarify the molecular and cellular basis for innate immune hyperactivity in models of polymerase gamma (Polg)-related MtD. We reveal that type I interferon (IFN-I)-mediated upregulation of caspase-11 and guanylate-binding proteins (GBPs) increase macrophage sensing of the opportunistic microbe Pseudomonas aeruginosa (PA) in Polg mutant mice. Furthermore, we show that excessive macrophage cytokine secretion and pyroptotic cell death contribute to lung inflammation and morbidity after infection with PA. Our work sheds new light on innate immune dysregulation in MtD and reveals potential targets for limiting infection- and inflammation-related complications in Polg-related MtD.
  24. Neurobiol Stress. 2024 Jul;31 100643
      Depression, or major depressive disorder, poses a significant burden for both individuals and society, affecting approximately 10.8% of the general population. This psychiatric disorder leads to approximately 800,000 deaths per year. A combination of genetic and environmental factors such as early life stress (ELS) increase the risk for development of depression in humans, and a clear role for the hippocampus in the pathophysiology of depression has been shown. Nevertheless, the underlying mechanisms of depression remain poorly understood, resulting in a lack of effective treatments. To better understand the core mechanisms underlying the development of depression, we used a cross-species design to investigate shared hippocampal pathophysiological mechanisms in mouse ELS and human depression. Mice were subjected to ELS by a maternal separation paradigm, followed by RNA sequencing analysis of the adult hippocampal tissue. This identified persistent transcriptional changes linked to mitochondrial stress response pathways, with oxidative phosphorylation and protein folding emerging as the main mechanisms affected by maternal separation. Remarkably, there was a significant overlap between the pathways involved in mitochondrial stress response we observed and publicly available RNAseq data from hippocampal tissue of depressive patients. This cross-species conservation of changes in gene expression of mitochondria-related genes suggests that mitochondrial stress may play a pivotal role in the development of depression. Our findings highlight the potential significance of the hippocampal mitochondrial stress response as a core mechanism underlying the development of depression. Further experimental investigations are required to expand our understanding of these mechanisms.
    Keywords:  Cross-species analysis; Depression; Early life stress; Hippocampus; Maternal separation; Mitochondrial stress response; RNA-Sequencing; Transcriptome
  25. J Mol Biol. 2024 May 29. pii: S0022-2836(24)00226-2. [Epub ahead of print] 168631
      Mitophagy is a specific type of autophagy responsible for the selective elimination of dysfunctional or superfluous mitochondria, ensuring the maintenance of mitochondrial quality control. The initiation of mitophagy is coordinated by the ULK1 kinase complex, which engages mitophagy receptors via its FIP200 subunit. Whether FIP200 performs additional functions in the subsequent later phases of mitophagy beyond this initial step and how its regulation occurs, remains unclear. Our findings reveal that multiple phosphorylation events on FIP200 differentially control the early and late stages of mitophagy. Furthermore, these phosphorylation events influence FIP200's interaction with ATG16L1. In summary, our results highlight the necessity for precise and dynamic regulation of FIP200, underscoring its importance in the progression of mitophagy.
    Keywords:  ATG16L1; Atg1/ULK1 kinase complex; FIP200; autophagy; mitophagy
  26. Cell Death Discov. 2024 May 27. 10(1): 259
      Mesial temporal lobe epilepsy (MTLE) is one of the most intractable epilepsies. Previously, we reported that mitochondrial DNA deletions were associated with epileptogenesis. While the underlying mechanism of mitochondrial DNA deletions during epileptogenesis remain unknown. In this study, a novel somatic mutation of DNA2 gene was identified in the hippocampal tissue of two MTLE patients carrying mitochondrial DNA deletions, and this mutation decreased the full-length expression of DNA2 protein significantly, aborting its normal functions. Then, we knocked down the DNA2 protein in zebrafish, and we demonstrated that zebrafish with DNA2 deficiency showed decreased expression of mitochondrial complex II-IV, and exhibited hallmarks of epileptic seizures, including abnormal development of the zebrafish and epileptiform discharge signals in brain, compared to the Cas9-control group. Moreover, our cell-based assays showed that DNA2 deletion resulted in accumulated mitochondrial DNA damage, abnormal oxidative phosphorylation and decreased ATP production in cells. Inadequate ATP generation in cells lead to declined Na+, K+-ATPase activity and change of cell membrane potential. Together, these disorders caused by DNA2 depletion increased cell apoptosis and inhibited the differentiation of SH-SY5Y into branched neuronal phenotype. In conclusion, DNA2 deficiency regulated the cell membrane potential via affecting ATP production by mitochondria and Na+, K+-ATPase activity, and also affected neuronal cell growth and differentiation. These disorders caused by DNA2 dysfunction are important causes of epilepsy. In summary, we are the first to report the pathogenic somatic mutation of DNA2 gene in the patients with MTLE disease, and we uncovered the mechanism of DNA2 regulating the epilepsy. This study provides new insight into the pathogenesis of epilepsy and underscore the value of DNA2 in epilepsy.
  27. Clin Genet. 2024 May 27.
      Biallelic variants in PISD cause a phenotypic spectrum ranging from short stature with spondyloepimetaphyseal dysplasia (SEMD) to a multisystem disorder affecting eyes, ears, bones, and brain. PISD encodes the mitochondrial-localized enzyme phosphatidylserine decarboxylase. The PISD precursor is self-cleaved to generate a heteromeric mature enzyme that converts phosphatidylserine to the phospholipid phosphatidylethanolamine. We describe a 17-year-old male patient, born to unrelated healthy parents, with disproportionate short stature and SEMD, featuring platyspondyly, prominent epiphyses, and metaphyseal dysplasia. Trio genome sequencing revealed compound heterozygous PISD variants c.569C>T; p.(Ser190Leu) and c.799C>T; p.(His267Tyr) in the patient. Investigation of fibroblasts showed similar levels of the PISD precursor protein in both patient and control cells. However, patient cells had a significantly higher proportion of fragmented mitochondria compared to control cells cultured under basal condition and after treatment with 2-deoxyglucose that represses glycolysis and stimulates respiration. Structural data from the PISD orthologue in Escherichia coli suggest that the amino acid substitutions Ser190Leu and His267Tyr likely impair PISD's autoprocessing activity and/or phosphatidylethanolamine biosynthesis. Based on the data, we propose that the novel PISD p.(Ser190Leu) and p.(His267Tyr) variants likely act as hypomorphs and underlie the pure skeletal phenotype in the patient.
    Keywords:  Liberfarb syndrome; PISD; SEMD; mitochondrial dysfunction; phosphatidylserine decarboxylase; spondyloepimetaphyseal dysplasia
  28. Cell Res. 2024 May 29.
      Bidirectional transcription of mammalian mitochondrial DNA generates overlapping transcripts that are capable of forming double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) structures. Release of mitochondrial dsRNA into the cytosol activates the dsRNA-sensing immune signaling, which is a defense mechanism against microbial and viral attack and possibly cancer, but could cause autoimmune diseases when unchecked. A better understanding of the process is vital in therapeutic application of this defense mechanism and treatment of cognate human diseases. In addition to exporting dsRNAs, mitochondria also export and import a variety of non-coding RNAs. However, little is known about how these RNAs are transported across mitochondrial membranes. Here we provide direct evidence showing that adenine nucleotide translocase-2 (ANT2) functions as a mammalian RNA translocon in the mitochondrial inner membrane, independent of its ADP/ATP translocase activity. We also show that mitochondrial dsRNA efflux through ANT2 triggers innate immunity. Inhibiting this process alleviates inflammation in vivo, providing a potential therapeutic approach for treating autoimmune diseases.
  29. Nat Commun. 2024 May 31. 15(1): 4655
      The human AAA-ATPase Bcs1L translocates the fully assembled Rieske iron-sulfur protein (ISP) precursor across the mitochondrial inner membrane, enabling respiratory Complex III assembly. Exactly how the folded substrate is bound to and released from Bcs1L has been unclear, and there has been ongoing debate as to whether subunits of Bcs1L act in sequence or in unison hydrolyzing ATP when moving the protein cargo. Here, we captured Bcs1L conformations by cryo-EM during active ATP hydrolysis in the presence or absence of ISP substrate. In contrast to the threading mechanism widely employed by AAA proteins in substrate translocation, subunits of Bcs1L alternate uniformly between ATP and ADP conformations without detectable intermediates that have different, co-existing nucleotide states, indicating that the subunits act in concert. We further show that the ISP can be trapped by Bcs1 when its subunits are all in the ADP-bound state, which we propose to be released in the apo form.