bims-nenemi Biomed News
on Neuroinflammation, neurodegeneration and mitochondria
Issue of 2022‒07‒10
twelve papers selected by
Marco Tigano
Thomas Jefferson University

  1. Med Microbiol Immunol. 2022 Jul 05.
      Structure and integrity of the mitochondrial network play important roles in many cellular processes. Loss of integrity can lead to the activation of a variety of signalling pathways and affect the cell's response to infections. The activation of such mitochondria-mediated cellular responses has implications for infection recognition, signal transduction and pathogen control. Although we have a basic understanding of mitochondrial factors such as mitochondrial DNA or RNA that may be involved in processes like pro-inflammatory signalling, the diverse roles of mitochondria in host defence remain unclear. Here we will first summarise the functions of mitochondria in the host cell and provide an overview of the major known mitochondrial stress responses. We will then present recent studies that have contributed to the understanding of the role of mitochondria in infectious diseases and highlight a number of recently investigated models of bacterial and viral infections.
    Keywords:  Infection; Inflammation; Innate immunity; Metabolism; Mitochondria; Stress responses
  2. Biochim Biophys Acta Bioenerg. 2022 Jun 30. pii: S0005-2728(22)00057-3. [Epub ahead of print]1863(7): 148588
      Mitochondria - nuclear coadaptation has been central to eukaryotic evolution. The dynamic dialogue between the two compartments within the context of multiorganellar interactions is critical for maintaining cellular homeostasis and directing the balance survival-death in case of cellular stress. The conceptualisation of mitochondria - nucleus communication has so far been focused on the communication from the mitochondria under stress to the nucleus and the consequent signalling responses, as well as from the nucleus to mitochondria in the context of DNA damage and repair. During ageing processes this dialogue may be better viewed as an integrated bidirectional 'talk' with feedback loops that expand beyond these two organelles depending on physiological cues. Here we explore the current views on mitochondria - nucleus dialogue and its role in maintaining cellular health with a focus on brain cells and neurodegenerative disease. Thus, we detail the transcriptional responses initiated by mitochondrial dysfunction in order to protect itself and the general cellular homeostasis. Additionally, we are reviewing the knowledge of the stress pathways initiated by DNA damage which affect mitochondria homeostasis and we add the information provided by the study of combined mitochondrial and genotoxic damage. Finally, we reflect on how each organelle may take the lead in this dialogue in an ageing context where both compartments undergo accumulation of stress and damage and where, perhaps, even the communications' mechanisms may suffer interruptions.
    Keywords:  DNA damage; Mitochondria nucleus communication; Mitochondrial damage; Neurodegeneration; Stress signalling
  3. Nat Commun. 2022 Jul 07. 13(1): 3775
      Mitofusins reside on the outer mitochondrial membrane and regulate mitochondrial fusion, a physiological process that impacts diverse cellular processes. Mitofusins are activated by conformational changes and subsequently oligomerize to enable mitochondrial fusion. Here, we identify small molecules that directly increase or inhibit mitofusins activity by modulating mitofusin conformations and oligomerization. We use these small molecules to better understand the role of mitofusins activity in mitochondrial fusion, function, and signaling. We find that mitofusin activation increases, whereas mitofusin inhibition decreases mitochondrial fusion and functionality. Remarkably, mitofusin inhibition also induces minority mitochondrial outer membrane permeabilization followed by sub-lethal caspase-3/7 activation, which in turn induces DNA damage and upregulates DNA damage response genes. In this context, apoptotic death induced by a second mitochondria-derived activator of caspases (SMAC) mimetic is potentiated by mitofusin inhibition. These data provide mechanistic insights into the function and regulation of mitofusins as well as small molecules to pharmacologically target mitofusins.
  4. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2022 Jul 08. 63(8): 1
      Purpose: To investigate the effect of an active integrated stress response (ISR) on human corneal epithelial cell motility and cytokine production.Methods: ISR agonists tunicamycin (TUN) and SAL003 (SAL) were used to stimulate the ISR in immortalized corneal epithelial cell lines, primary human limbal epithelial stem cells, and ex vivo human corneas. Reporter lines for ISR-associated transcription factors activating transcription factor 4 (ATF4) and XBP1 activity were generated to visualize pathway activity in response to kinase-specific agonists. Scratch assays and multiplex magnetic bead arrays were used to investigate the effects of an active ISR on scratch wounds and cytokine production. A C/EBP homologous protein (CHOP) knockout cell line was generated to investigate the effects of ISR ablation. Finally, an ISR antagonist was assayed for its ability to rescue negative phenotypic changes associated with an active ISR.
    Results: ISR stimulation, mediated through CHOP, inhibited cell motility in both immortalized and primary human limbal epithelial cells. Scratch wounding of ex vivo corneas elicited an increase in the ISR mediators phosphorylated-eIF2α and ATF4. ISR stimulation also increased the production of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and proinflammatory cytokines. ISR ablation, through CHOP knockout or inhibition with integrated stress response inhibitor (ISRIB) rescued epithelia migration ability and reduced VEGF secretion.
    Conclusions: We demonstrate that the ISR has dramatic effects on the ability of corneal epithelial cells to respond to wounding models and increases the production of proinflammatory and angiogenic factors. Inhibition of the ISR may provide a new therapeutic option for corneal diseases in which the ISR is implicated.
  5. Elife. 2022 Jul 08. pii: e76095. [Epub ahead of print]11
      Deletion of mitochondrial DNA in eukaryotes is currently attributed to rare accidental events associated with mitochondrial replication or repair of double-strand breaks. We report the discovery that yeast cells arrest harmful intramitochondrial superoxide production by shutting down respiration through genetically controlled deletion of mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation genes. We show that this process critically involves the antioxidant enzyme superoxide dismutase 2 and two-way mitochondrial-nuclear communication through Rtg2 and Rtg3. While mitochondrial DNA homeostasis is rapidly restored after cessation of a short-term superoxide stress, long-term stress causes maladaptive persistence of the deletion process, leading to complete annihilation of the cellular pool of intact mitochondrial genomes and irrevocable loss of respiratory ability. This shows that oxidative stress-induced mitochondrial impairment may be under strict regulatory control. If the results extend to human cells, the results may prove to be of etiological as well as therapeutic importance with regard to age-related mitochondrial impairment and disease.
    Keywords:  S. cerevisiae; cell biology; genetics; genomics
  6. Int J Mol Sci. 2022 Jun 30. pii: 7327. [Epub ahead of print]23(13):
      Mutations in mitochondrial aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases (mtARSs) have been reported in patients with mitochondriopathies: most commonly encephalopathy, but also cardiomyopathy. Through a GWAS, we showed possible associations between mitochondrial valyl-tRNA synthetase (VARS2) dysregulations and non-ischemic cardiomyopathy. We aimed to investigate the possible consequences of VARS2 depletion in zebrafish and cultured HEK293A cells. Transient VARS2 loss-of-function was induced in zebrafish embryos using Morpholinos. The enzymatic activity of VARS2 was measured in VARS2-depleted cells via northern blot. Heterozygous VARS2 knockout was established in HEK293A cells using CRISPR/Cas9 technology. BN-PAGE and SDS-PAGE were used to investigate electron transport chain (ETC) complexes, and the oxygen consumption rate and extracellular acidification rate were measured using a Seahorse XFe96 Analyzer. The activation of the integrated stress response (ISR) and possible disruptions in mitochondrial fatty acid oxidation (FAO) were explored using RT-qPCR and western blot. Zebrafish embryos with transient VARS2 loss-of-function showed features of heart failure as well as indications of CNS and skeletal muscle involvements. The enzymatic activity of VARS2 was significantly reduced in VARS2-depleted cells. Heterozygous VARS2-knockout cells showed a rearrangement of ETC complexes in favor of complexes III2, III2 + IV, and supercomplexes without significant respiratory chain deficiencies. These cells also showed the enhanced activation of the ISR, as indicated by increased eIF-2α phosphorylation and a significant increase in the transcript levels of ATF4, ATF5, and DDIT3 (CHOP), as well as disruptions in FAO. The activation of the ISR and disruptions in mitochondrial FAO may underlie the adaptive changes in VARS2-depleted cells.
    Keywords:  VARS2; heart failure; integrated stress response; mitochondrial FAO
  7. Annu Rev Cell Dev Biol. 2022 Jul 08.
      Mitochondria are traditionally known as the powerhouse of the cell, but their functions extend far beyond energy production. They are vital in cellular and organismal pathways that direct metabolism, stress responses, immunity, and cellular fate. To accomplish these tasks, mitochondria have established networks of both intra- and extracellular communication. Intracellularly, these communication routes comprise direct contacts between mitochondria and other subcellular components as well as indirect vesicle transport of ions, metabolites, and other intracellular messengers. Extracellularly, mitochondria can induce stress responses or other cellular changes that secrete mitochondrial cytokine (mitokine) factors that can travel between tissues as well as respond to immune challenges from extracellular sources. Here we provide a current perspective on the major routes of communication for mitochondrial signaling, including their mechanisms and physiological impact. We also review the major diseases and age-related disorders associated with defects in these signaling pathways. An understanding of how mitochondrial signaling controls cellular homeostasis will bring greater insight into how dysfunctional mitochondria affect health in disease and aging. Expected final online publication date for the Annual Review of Cell and Developmental Biology Volume 38 is October 2022. Please see for revised estimates.
  8. iScience. 2022 Jul 15. 25(7): 104599
      Pattern recognition receptors (PRRs) protect against microbial invasion by detecting specific molecular patterns found in pathogens and initiating an immune response. Although microbial-derived PRR ligands have been extensively characterized, the contribution and relevance of endogenous ligands to PRR activation remains overlooked. Here, we characterize the landscape of endogenous ligands that engage RIG-I-like receptors (RLRs) upon infection by different RNA viruses. In each infection, several RNAs transcribed by RNA polymerase III (Pol3) specifically engaged RLRs, particularly the family of Y RNAs. Sensing of Y RNAs was dependent on their mimicking of viral secondary structure and their 5'-triphosphate extremity. Further, we found that HIV-1 triggered a VPR-dependent downregulation of RNA triphosphatase DUSP11 in vitro and in vivo, inducing a transcriptome-wide change of cellular RNA 5'-triphosphorylation that licenses Y RNA immunogenicity. Overall, our work uncovers the contribution of endogenous RNAs to antiviral immunity and demonstrates the importance of this pathway in HIV-1 infection.
    Keywords:  Biological sciences; Immunology; Transcriptomics
  9. Mitochondrion. 2022 Jul 01. pii: S1567-7249(22)00051-4. [Epub ahead of print]
      The mitochondrial genome (mtDNA) is an important source of disease-causing genetic variability, but existing sequencing methods limit understanding, precluding phased measurement of mutations and clear detection of large sporadic deletions. We adapted a method for amplification-free sequence enrichment using Cas9 cleavage to obtain full length nanopore reads of mtDNA. We then utilized the long reads to phase mutations in a patient with an mtDNA-linked syndrome and demonstrated that this method can map age-induced mtDNA deletions. We believe this method will offer deeper insight into our understanding of mtDNA variation.
    Keywords:  Aging; SNPs; Sequencing; mtDNA; mtDNA deletions
  10. Int J Mol Sci. 2022 Jun 29. pii: 7248. [Epub ahead of print]23(13):
      Interferon (IFN) signaling resulting from external or internal inflammatory processes initiates the rapid release of cytokines and chemokines to target viral or bacterial invasion, as well as cancer and other diseases. Prolonged exposure to IFNs, or the overexpression of other cytokines, leads to immune exhaustion, enhancing inflammation and leading to the persistence of infection and promotion of disease. Hence, to control and stabilize an excessive immune response, approaches for the management of inflammation are required. The potential use of peptides as anti-inflammatory agents has been previously demonstrated. Our team discovered, and previously published, a 9-amino-acid cyclic peptide named ALOS4 which exhibits anti-cancer properties in vivo and in vitro. We suggested that the anti-cancer effect of ALOS4 arises from interaction with the immune system, possibly through the modulation of inflammatory processes. Here, we show that treatment with ALOS4 decreases basal cytokine levels in mice with chronic inflammation and prolongs the lifespan of mice with acute systemic inflammation induced by irradiation. We also show that pretreatment with ALOS4 reduces the expression of IFN alpha, IFN lambda, and selected interferon-response genes triggered by polyinosinic-polycytidylic acid (Poly I:C), a synthetic analog of viral double-stranded RNA, while upregulating the expression of other genes with antiviral activity. Hence, we conclude that ALOS4 does not prevent IFN signaling, but rather supports the antiviral response by upregulating the expression of interferon-response genes in an interferon-independent manner.
    Keywords:  ALOS4; IFN-α; IFN-λ; cytokines; inflammation; peptide
  11. Sci Rep. 2022 Jul 07. 12(1): 11533
      The unfolded protein response (UPR) is an adaptive stress response pathway that is essential for cancer cell survival under endoplasmic reticulum stress such as during glucose starvation. In this study, we identified spautin-1, an autophagy inhibitor that suppresses ubiquitin-specific peptidase 10 (USP10) and USP13, as a novel UPR inhibitor under glucose starvation conditions. Spautin-1 prevented the induction of UPR-associated proteins, including glucose-regulated protein 78, activating transcription factor 4, and a splicing variant of x-box-binding protein-1, and showed preferential cytotoxicity in glucose-starved cancer cells. However, USP10 and USP13 silencing and treatment with other autophagy inhibitors failed to result in UPR inhibition and preferential cytotoxicity during glucose starvation. Using transcriptome and chemosensitivity-based COMPARE analyses, we identified a similarity between spautin-1 and mitochondrial complex I inhibitors and found that spautin-1 suppressed the activity of complex I extracted from isolated mitochondria. Our results indicated that spautin-1 may represent an attractive mitochondria-targeted seed compound that inhibits the UPR and cancer cell survival during glucose starvation.
  12. Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol. 2022 Jul 08.
      Mitochondrial energetic adaptations encompass a plethora of conserved processes that maintain cell and organismal fitness and survival in the changing environment by adjusting the respiratory capacity of mitochondria. These mitochondrial responses are governed by general principles of regulatory biology exemplified by changes in gene expression, protein translation, protein complex formation, transmembrane transport, enzymatic activities and metabolite levels. These changes can promote mitochondrial biogenesis and membrane dynamics that in turn support mitochondrial respiration. The main regulatory components of mitochondrial energetic adaptation include: the transcription coactivator peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-γ (PPARγ) coactivator 1α (PGC1α) and associated transcription factors; mTOR and endoplasmic reticulum stress signalling; TOM70-dependent mitochondrial protein import; the cristae remodelling factors, including mitochondrial contact site and cristae organizing system (MICOS) and OPA1; lipid remodelling; and the assembly and metabolite-dependent regulation of respiratory complexes. These adaptive molecular and structural mechanisms increase respiration to maintain basic processes specific to cell types and tissues. Failure to execute these regulatory responses causes cell damage and inflammation or senescence, compromising cell survival and the ability to adapt to energetically demanding conditions. Thus, mitochondrial adaptive cellular processes are important for physiological responses, including to nutrient availability, temperature and physical activity, and their failure leads to diseases associated with mitochondrial dysfunction such as metabolic and age-associated diseases and cancer.