bims-nenemi Biomed News
on Neuroinflammation, neurodegeneration and mitochondria
Issue of 2022‒05‒01
eight papers selected by
Marco Tigano
Thomas Jefferson University

  1. EMBO J. 2022 Apr 25. e109985
      Halofuginone (HF) is a phase 2 clinical compound that inhibits the glutamyl-prolyl-tRNA synthetase (EPRS) thereby inducing the integrated stress response (ISR). Here, we report that halofuginone indeed triggers the predicted canonical ISR adaptations, consisting of attenuation of protein synthesis and gene expression reprogramming. However, the former is surprisingly atypical and occurs to a similar magnitude in wild-type cells, cells lacking GCN2 and those incapable of phosphorylating eIF2α. Proline supplementation rescues the observed HF-induced changes indicating that they result from inhibition of EPRS. The failure of the GCN2-to-eIF2α pathway to elicit a measurable protective attenuation of translation initiation allows translation elongation defects to prevail upon HF treatment. Exploiting this vulnerability of the ISR, we show that cancer cells with increased proline dependency are more sensitive to halofuginone. This work reveals that the consequences of EPRS inhibition are more complex than anticipated and provides novel insights into ISR signaling, as well as a molecular framework to guide the targeted development of halofuginone as a therapeutic.
    Keywords:  GCN2; integrated stress response; stress responses; tRNA synthetase; translation
  2. Front Physiol. 2022 ;13 772313
      Mitochondrial malfunction is a hallmark of many diseases, including neurodegenerative disorders, cardiovascular and lung diseases, and cancers. We previously found that alveolar progenitor cells, which are more resistant to cigarette smoke-induced injury than the other cells of the lung parenchyma, upregulate the mtDNA-encoded small non-coding RNA mito-ncR-805 after exposure to smoke. The mito-ncR-805 acts as a retrograde signal between the mitochondria and the nucleus. Here, we identified a region of mito-ncR-805 that is conserved in the mammalian mitochondrial genomes and generated shorter versions of mouse and human transcripts (mmu-CR805 and hsa-LDL1, respectively), which differ in a few nucleotides and which we refer to as the "functional bit". Overexpression of mouse and human functional bits in either the mouse or the human lung epithelial cells led to an increase in the activity of the Krebs cycle and oxidative phosphorylation, stabilized the mitochondrial potential, conferred faster cell division, and lowered the levels of proapoptotic pseudokinase, TRIB3. Both oligos, mmu-CR805 and hsa-LDL1 conferred cross-species beneficial effects. Our data indicate a high degree of evolutionary conservation of retrograde signaling via a functional bit of the D-loop transcript, mito-ncR-805, in the mammals. This emphasizes the importance of the pathway and suggests a potential to develop this functional bit into a therapeutic agent that enhances mitochondrial bioenergetics.
    Keywords:  D-loop transcripts; Krebs cycle; OxPhos; mitochondria; mitochondria-to-nucleus retrograde signaling; small ncRNA
  3. Biol Rev Camb Philos Soc. 2022 Apr 26.
      Protein kinase RNA-like ER kinase (PERK) is an endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress sensor that responds to the accumulation of misfolded proteins. Once activated, PERK initiates signalling pathways that halt general protein production, increase the efficiency of ER quality control, and maintain redox homeostasis. PERK activation also protects mitochondrial homeostasis during stress. The location of PERK at the contact sites between the ER and the mitochondria creates a PERK-mitochondria axis that allows PERK to detect stress in both organelles, adapt their functions and prevent apoptosis. During ER stress, PERK activation triggers mitochondrial hyperfusion, preventing premature apoptotic fragmentation of the mitochondria. PERK activation also increases the formation of mitochondrial cristae and the assembly of respiratory supercomplexes, enhancing cellular ATP-generating capacity. PERK strengthens mitochondrial quality control during stress by promoting the expression of mitochondrial chaperones and proteases and by increasing mitochondrial biogenesis and mitophagy, resulting in renewal of the mitochondrial network. But how does PERK mediate all these changes in mitochondrial homeostasis? In addition to the classic PERK-eukaryotic translation initiation factor 2α (eIF2α)-activating transcription factor 4 (ATF4) pathway, PERK can activate other protective pathways - PERK-O-linked N-acetyl-glucosamine transferase (OGT), PERK-transcription factor EB (TFEB), and PERK-nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (NRF2) - contributing to broader regulation of mitochondrial dynamics, metabolism, and quality control. The pharmacological activation of PERK is protective in models of neurodegenerative and metabolic diseases, such as Huntington's disease, progressive supranuclear palsy and obesity, while the inhibition of PERK was protective in models of Parkinson's and prion diseases and diabetes. In this review, we address the molecular mechanisms by which PERK regulates mitochondrial dynamics, metabolism and quality control, and discuss the therapeutic potential of targeting PERK in neurodegenerative and metabolic diseases.
    Keywords:  PERK; dynamics; endoplasmic reticulum; metabolic diseases; metabolism; mitochondria; neurodegeneration; stress; unfolded protein response
  4. Cell. 2022 Apr 18. pii: S0092-8674(22)00389-0. [Epub ahead of print]
      Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) editing paves the way for disease modeling of mitochondrial genetic disorders in cell lines and animals and also for the treatment of these diseases in the future. Bacterial cytidine deaminase DddA-derived cytosine base editors (DdCBEs) enabling mtDNA editing, however, are largely limited to C-to-T conversions in the 5'-TC context (e.g., TC-to-TT conversions), suitable for generating merely 1/8 of all possible transition (purine-to-purine and pyrimidine-to-pyrimidine) mutations. Here, we present transcription-activator-like effector (TALE)-linked deaminases (TALEDs), composed of custom-designed TALE DNA-binding arrays, a catalytically impaired, full-length DddA variant or split DddA originated from Burkholderia cenocepacia, and an engineered deoxyadenosine deaminase derived from the E. coli TadA protein, which induce targeted A-to-G editing in human mitochondria. Custom-designed TALEDs were highly efficient in human cells, catalyzing A-to-G conversions at a total of 17 target sites in various mitochondrial genes with editing frequencies of up to 49%.
    Keywords:  DNA; DddAtox; TALED; adenine deaminase; base editing; genome editing; mitochondria; organelle
  5. J Neurol. 2022 Apr 29.
      BACKGROUND: There is increasing evidence for the role of inflammation in the pathogenesis of mitochondrial diseases (MDs). However, the mechanisms underlying mutation-induced inflammation in MD remain elusive. Our previous study suggested that mitophagy is impaired in the skeletal muscle of those with MD, likely causing mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) release and thereby triggering inflammation. We here aimed to decipher the role of the cGAS-STING pathway in inflammatory process in MDs.METHODS: We investigated the levels of circulating cell-free mtDNA (ccf-mtDNA) in the serum of 104 patients with MDs. Immunofluorescence was performed in skeletal muscles in MDs and control. Biochemical analysis of muscle biopsies was conducted with western blot to detect cGAS, STING, TBK1, IRF3 and phosphorylated IRF3 (p-IRF3). RT-qPCR was performed to detect the downstream genes of type I interferon in skeletal muscles. Furthermore, a protein microarray was used to examine the cytokine levels in the serum of patients with MDs.
    RESULTS: We found that ccf-mtDNA levels were significantly increased in those with MDs compared to the controls. Consistently, the immunofluorescent results showed that cytosolic dsDNA levels were increased in the muscle samples of MD patients. Biochemical analysis of muscle biopsies showed that cGAS, IRF3, and TBK1 protein levels were significantly increased in those with MDs, indicating that there was activation of the cGAS-STING pathway. RT-qPCR showed that downstream genes of type I interferon were upregulated in muscle samples of MDs. Protein microarray results showed that a total of six cytokines associated with the cGAS-STING pathway were significantly increased in MD patients (fold change > 1.2, p value < 0.05).
    CONCLUSIONS: These findings suggest that increases in ccf-mtDNA levels is associated with the activation of the cGAS-STING pathway, thereby triggering inflammation in MDs.
    Keywords:  Ccf-mtDNA; Inflammation; Mitochondrial diseases; cGAS-STING pathway
  6. Nat Commun. 2022 Apr 29. 13(1): 2340
      The dynamin-like GTPases Mitofusin 1 and 2 (Mfn1 and Mfn2) are essential for mitochondrial function, which has been principally attributed to their regulation of fission/fusion dynamics. Here, we report that Mfn1 and 2 are critical for glucose-stimulated insulin secretion (GSIS) primarily through control of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) content. Whereas Mfn1 and Mfn2 individually were dispensable for glucose homeostasis, combined Mfn1/2 deletion in β-cells reduced mtDNA content, impaired mitochondrial morphology and networking, and decreased respiratory function, ultimately resulting in severe glucose intolerance. Importantly, gene dosage studies unexpectedly revealed that Mfn1/2 control of glucose homeostasis was dependent on maintenance of mtDNA content, rather than mitochondrial structure. Mfn1/2 maintain mtDNA content by regulating the expression of the crucial mitochondrial transcription factor Tfam, as Tfam overexpression ameliorated the reduction in mtDNA content and GSIS in Mfn1/2-deficient β-cells. Thus, the primary physiologic role of Mfn1 and 2 in β-cells is coupled to the preservation of mtDNA content rather than mitochondrial architecture, and Mfn1 and 2 may be promising targets to overcome mitochondrial dysfunction and restore glucose control in diabetes.
  7. Nat Immunol. 2022 Apr 28.
      The NLRP3 inflammasome is linked to sterile and pathogen-dependent inflammation, and its dysregulation underlies many chronic diseases. Mitochondria have been implicated as regulators of the NLRP3 inflammasome through several mechanisms including generation of mitochondrial reactive oxygen species (ROS). Here, we report that mitochondrial electron transport chain (ETC) complex I, II, III and V inhibitors all prevent NLRP3 inflammasome activation. Ectopic expression of Saccharomyces cerevisiae NADH dehydrogenase (NDI1) or Ciona intestinalis alternative oxidase, which can complement the functional loss of mitochondrial complex I or III, respectively, without generation of ROS, rescued NLRP3 inflammasome activation in the absence of endogenous mitochondrial complex I or complex III function. Metabolomics revealed phosphocreatine (PCr), which can sustain ATP levels, as a common metabolite that is diminished by mitochondrial ETC inhibitors. PCr depletion decreased ATP levels and NLRP3 inflammasome activation. Thus, the mitochondrial ETC sustains NLRP3 inflammasome activation through PCr-dependent generation of ATP, but via a ROS-independent mechanism.
  8. Elife. 2022 Apr 28. pii: e76564. [Epub ahead of print]11
      Microglia serve critical remodeling roles that shape the developing nervous system, responding to the changing neural environment with phagocytosis or soluble factor secretion. Recent single-cell sequencing (scRNAseq) studies have revealed the context-dependent diversity in microglial properties and gene expression, but the cues promoting this diversity are not well defined. Here, we ask how interactions with apoptotic neurons shape microglial state, including lysosomal and lipid metabolism gene expression and dependence on Colony-stimulating factor 1 receptor (CSF1R) for survival. Using early postnatal mouse retina, a CNS region undergoing significant developmental remodeling, we performed scRNAseq on microglia from mice that are wild-type, lack neuronal apoptosis (Bax KO), or are treated with CSF1R inhibitor (PLX3397). We find that interactions with apoptotic neurons drives multiple microglial remodeling states, subsets of which are resistant to CSF1R inhibition. We find that TAM receptor Mer and complement receptor 3 are required for clearance of apoptotic neurons, but that Mer does not drive expression of remodeling genes. We show TAM receptor Axl is negligible for phagocytosis or remodeling gene expression but is consequential for microglial survival in the absence of CSF1R signaling. Thus, interactions with apoptotic neurons shift microglia towards distinct remodeling states and through Axl, alter microglial dependence on survival pathway, CSF1R.
    Keywords:  mouse; neuroscience