bims-mitmed Biomed News
on Mitochondrial medicine
Issue of 2021‒11‒21
twenty-five papers selected by
Dario Brunetti
Fondazione IRCCS Istituto Neurologico

  1. 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
  2. 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
  3. 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
  4. 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.
  5. 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
  6. J Biol Chem. 2021 Nov 13. pii: S0021-9258(21)01217-5. [Epub ahead of print] 101410
      Pluripotent stem cells are known to shift their mitochondrial metabolism upon differentiation, but the mechanisms underlying such metabolic rewiring are not fully understood. We hypothesized that during differentiation of human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs), mitochondria undergo mitophagy and are then replenished by the biogenesis of new mitochondria adapted to the metabolic needs of the differentiated cell. To evaluate mitophagy during iPSC differentiation, we performed live cell imaging of mitochondria and lysosomes in hiPSCs differentiating into vascular endothelial cells using confocal microscopy. We observed a burst of mitophagy during the initial phases of hiPSC differentiation into the endothelial lineage, followed by subsequent mitochondrial biogenesis as assessed by the mitochondrial biogenesis biosensor MitoTimer. Furthermore, hiPSCs undergoing differentiation showed greater mitochondrial oxidation of fatty acids and an increase in ATP levels as assessed by an ATP biosensor. We also found that during mitophagy, the mitochondrial phosphatase PGAM5 is cleaved in hiPSC-derived endothelial progenitor cells and in turn activates β-catenin-mediated transcription of the transcriptional co-activator PGC-1α, which upregulates mitochondrial biogenesis. These data suggest that mitophagy itself initiates the increase in mitochondrial biogenesis and oxidative metabolism through transcriptional changes during endothelial cell differentiation. In summary, these findings reveal a mitophagy-mediated mechanism for metabolic rewiring and maturation of differentiating cells via the β-catenin signaling pathway. We propose that such mitochondrial-nuclear crosstalk during hiPSC differentiation could be leveraged to enhance the metabolic maturation of differentiated cells.
    Keywords:  cell differentiation; induced pluripotent stem cells; mitochondrial metabolism; mitophagy; β-catenin
  7. 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
  8. 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
  9. Chem Soc Rev. 2021 Nov 18.
      This review highlights the biological importance of mitochondrial energy metabolism and the applications of multiple optical/electrochemical approaches to determine energy metabolites. Mitochondria, the main sites of oxidative phosphorylation and adenosine triphosphate (ATP) biosynthesis, provide the majority of energy required by aerobic cells for maintaining their physiological activity. They also participate in cell growth, differentiation, information transmission, and apoptosis. Multiple mitochondrial diseases, caused by internal or external factors, including oxidative stress, intense fluctuations of the ionic concentration, abnormal oxidative phosphorylation, changes in electron transport chain complex enzymes and mutations in mitochondrial DNA, can occur during mitochondrial energy metabolism. Therefore, developing accurate, sensitive, and specific methods for the in vivo and in vitro detection of mitochondrial energy metabolites is of great importance. In this review, we summarise the mitochondrial structure, functions, and crucial energy metabolic signalling pathways. The mechanism and applications of different optical/electrochemical methods are thoroughly reviewed. Finally, future research directions and challenges are proposed.
  10. 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
  11. 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
  12. Transl Psychiatry. 2021 Nov 17. 11(1): 593
      Mitochondrial dysfunction has been implicated in major depressive disorder (MDD). A measure of mitochondrial respiratory chain (RC) enzymatic activity-the Mitochondrial Health Index (MHI)-has previously been found to correlate with stress and emotional states in caregivers. We here report mitochondrial RC activities, mitochondrial DNA copy number (mtDNAcn), and the composite MHI in unmedicated and somatically healthy subjects with MDD (n = 47) and healthy controls (HC) (n = 11). We also explore, in a subset of the MDD sample (n = 33), whether these markers are associated with response to 8 weeks of SSRI treatment. Mitochondrial RC complexes I, II, IV, citrate synthase (CS), mtDNAcn, and the MHI were assayed in peripheral blood mononuclear cells. Treatment response was defined as >50% decrease on the 25-item Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HRDS-25). There were no significant differences in MHI or any of the mitochondrial markers between MDD subjects and HCs. Compared to SSRI nonresponders, SSRI responders had significantly higher baseline mitochondrial content markers CS (p = 0.02) and mtDNAcn (p = 0.02), and higher complex I activity (p = 0.01). Complex II activity increased significantly over treatment, irrespective of clinical response (p = 0.03). Complex I activity decreased in responders (n = 9), but increased in nonresponders (n = 18) (group x time interaction, p = 0.02). Absolute treatment-associated change in HDRS-25 scores correlated significantly with change in complex I activity between baseline and week 8 (r = 0.47, p = 0.01). Although mitochondrial markers did not distinguish MDD from controls, they did distinguish SSRI responders from nonresponders. If larger studies validate these mitochondrial differences, they may become useful biomarkers and identify new drug targets.
  13. FASEB J. 2021 Dec;35(12): e21974
      The electron transport chain (ETC) couples oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) with ATP synthase to drive the generation of ATP. In immune cells, research surrounding the ETC has drifted away from bioenergetics since the discovery of cytochrome c (Cyt c) release as a signal for programmed cell death. Complex I has been shown to generate reactive oxygen species (ROS), with key roles identified in inflammatory macrophages and T helper 17 cells (TH 17) cells. Complex II is the site of reverse electron transport (RET) in inflammatory macrophages and is also responsible for regulating fumarate levels linking to epigenetic changes. Complex III also produces ROS which activate hypoxia-inducible factor 1-alpha (HIF-1α) and can participate in regulatory T cell (Treg ) function. Complex IV is required for T cell activation and differentiation and the proper development of Treg subsets. Complex V is required for TH 17 differentiation and can be expressed on the surface of tumor cells where it is recognized by anti-tumor T and NK cells. In this review, we summarize these findings and speculate on the therapeutic potential of targeting the ETC as an anti-inflammatory strategy.
    Keywords:  T-lymphocytes; electron transport chain (ETC); immunometabolism; macrophage; mitochondria; oxidative phosphorylation
  14. Neurology. 2021 Nov 19. pii: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000013084. [Epub ahead of print]
      A 31-year-old healthy white male experienced painless sequential vision loss. Brain imaging and laboratory investigations for infectious, inflammatory, and nutritional conditions, in addition to targeted genetic testing for Leber hereditary optic neuropathy (LHON), were all normal or negative. Despite systemic corticosteroid therapy and plasma exchange, vision continued to worsen. Eventually, mitochondrial whole genome sequencing was performed, which demonstrated a mutation at the 13513G>A position confirming the diagnosis of LHON. Three primary mutations (11778G>A, 14484T>C and 3460G>A) account for 90% of LHON cases, therefore it is important to consider whole genome mitochondrial sequencing in cases with a high index of clinical suspicion.
  15. 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
  16. 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.
  17. Nat Commun. 2021 Nov 19. 12(1): 6750
      The multispanning membrane protein ATG9A is a scramblase that flips phospholipids between the two membrane leaflets, thus contributing to the expansion of the phagophore membrane in the early stages of autophagy. Herein, we show that depletion of ATG9A does not only inhibit autophagy but also increases the size and/or number of lipid droplets in human cell lines and C. elegans. Moreover, ATG9A depletion blocks transfer of fatty acids from lipid droplets to mitochondria and, consequently, utilization of fatty acids in mitochondrial respiration. ATG9A localizes to vesicular-tubular clusters (VTCs) that are tightly associated with an ER subdomain enriched in another multispanning membrane scramblase, TMEM41B, and also in close proximity to phagophores, lipid droplets and mitochondria. These findings indicate that ATG9A plays a critical role in lipid mobilization from lipid droplets to autophagosomes and mitochondria, highlighting the importance of ATG9A in both autophagic and non-autophagic processes.
  18. Cell Rep. 2021 Nov 16. pii: S2211-1247(21)01506-0. [Epub ahead of print]37(7): 110024
      To reshape neuronal connectivity in adult stages, Drosophila sensory neurons prune their dendrites during metamorphosis using a genetic degeneration program that is induced by the steroid hormone ecdysone. Metamorphosis is a nonfeeding stage that imposes metabolic constraints on development. We find that AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK), a regulator of energy homeostasis, is cell-autonomously required for dendrite pruning. AMPK is activated by ecdysone and promotes oxidative phosphorylation and pyruvate usage, likely to enable neurons to use noncarbohydrate metabolites such as amino acids for energy production. Loss of AMPK or mitochondrial deficiency causes specific defects in pruning factor translation and the ubiquitin-proteasome system. Our findings distinguish pruning from pathological neurite degeneration, which is often induced by defects in energy production, and highlight how metabolism is adapted to fit energy-costly developmental transitions.
    Keywords:  AMPK; dendrite; proteasome; pruning; pyruvate; translation
  19. 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.
  20. 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
  21. Nat Commun. 2021 Nov 17. 12(1): 6637
      Although mitophagy is known to restrict NLRP3 inflammasome activation, the underlying regulatory mechanism remains poorly characterized. Here we describe a type of early endosome-dependent mitophagy that limits NLRP3 inflammasome activation. Deletion of the endosomal adaptor protein APPL1 impairs mitophagy, leading to accumulation of damaged mitochondria producing reactive oxygen species (ROS) and oxidized cytosolic mitochondrial DNA, which in turn trigger NLRP3 inflammasome overactivation in macrophages. NLRP3 agonist causes APPL1 to translocate from early endosomes to mitochondria, where it interacts with Rab5 to facilitate endosomal-mediated mitophagy. Mice deficient for APPL1 specifically in hematopoietic cell are more sensitive to endotoxin-induced sepsis, obesity-induced inflammation and glucose dysregulation. These are associated with increased expression of systemic interleukin-1β, a major product of NLRP3 inflammasome activation. Our findings indicate that the early endosomal machinery is essential to repress NLRP3 inflammasome hyperactivation by promoting mitophagy in macrophages.
  22. 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
  23. Sci Rep. 2021 Nov 15. 11(1): 22248
      The present study aimed to characterize clinical and molecular data of a large cohort of subjects with childhood-onset hereditary spastic paraplegias (HSPs). A multicenter historical cohort was performed at five centers in Brazil, in which probands and affected relatives' data from consecutive families with childhood-onset HSP (onset < 12 years-old) were reviewed from 2011 to 2020. One hundred and six individuals (83 families) with suspicion of childhood-onset HSP were evaluated, being 68 (50 families) with solved genetic diagnosis, 6 (5 families) with candidate variants in HSP-related genes and 32 (28 families) with unsolved genetic diagnosis. The most common childhood-onset subtype was SPG4, 11/50 (22%) families with solved genetic diagnosis; followed by SPG3A, 8/50 (16%). Missense pathogenic variants in SPAST were found in 54.5% of probands, favoring the association of this type of variant to childhood-onset SPG4. Survival curves to major handicap and cross-sectional Spastic Paraplegia Rating Scale progressions confirmed the slow neurological deterioration in SPG4 and SPG3A. Most common complicating features and twenty variants not previously described in HSP-related genes were reported. These results are fundamental to understand the molecular and clinical epidemiology of childhood-onset HSP, which might help on differential diagnosis, patient care and guiding future collaborative trials for these rare diseases.
  24. Brain. 2021 Nov 11. pii: awab416. [Epub ahead of print]
      Pathogenic variants in SOD1, encoding superoxide dismutase 1, are responsible for about 20% of all familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis cases, through a gain-of-function mechanism. Recently, two reports showed that a specific homozygous SOD1 loss-of-function variant is associated with an infantile progressive motor-neurological syndrome. Exome sequencing followed by molecular studies, including cDNA analysis, SOD1 protein levels and enzymatic activity, and plasma neurofilament light chain levels, were undertaken in an infant with severe global developmental delay, axial hypotonia and limb spasticity. We identified a homozygous 3-bp in-frame deletion in SOD1. cDNA analysis predicted the loss of a single valine residue from a tandem pair (p.Val119/Val120) in the wild-type protein, yet expression levels and splicing were preserved. Analysis of SOD1 activity and protein levels in erythrocyte lysates showed essentially no enzymatic activity and undetectable SOD1 protein in the child, whereas the parents had ∼50% protein expression and activity relative to controls. Neurofilament light chain levels in plasma were elevated, implying ongoing axonal injury and neurodegeneration. Thus, we provide confirmatory evidence of a second biallelic variant in an infant with a severe neurological syndrome and suggest that the in-frame deletion causes instability and subsequent degeneration of SOD1. We highlight the importance of the valine residues at positions V119-120, and suggest possible implications for future therapeutics research.
    Keywords:  SOD1; amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; exome sequencing; superoxide dismutase
  25. Front Neurosci. 2021 ;15 725547
      Depression is a leading cause of disability and affects more than 4% of the population worldwide. Even though its pathophysiology remains elusive, it is now well accepted that peripheral inflammation might increase the risk of depressive episodes in a subgroup of patients. However, there is still insufficient knowledge about the mechanisms by which inflammation induces alterations in brain function. In neurodegenerative and neuroinflammatory diseases, extensive studies have reported that inflammation negatively impacts mitochondrial health, contributing to excitotoxicity, oxidative stress, energy deficits, and eventually neuronal death. In addition, damaged mitochondria can release a wide range of damage-associated molecular patterns that are potent activators of the inflammatory response, creating a feed-forward cycle between oxidative stress, mitochondrial impairment, inflammation, and neuronal dysfunction. Surprisingly, the possible involvement of this vicious cycle in the pathophysiology of inflammation-associated depression remains understudied. In this mini-review we summarize the research supporting the association between neuroinflammation, mitochondrial dysfunction, and bioenergetic failure in inflammation-associated depression to highlight the relevance of further studies addressing this crosstalk.
    Keywords:  bioenergetics; depression; inflammation; mitochondria; neurons