bims-nenemi Biomed News
on Neuroinflammation, neurodegeneration and mitochondria
Issue of 2023‒02‒05
thirteen papers selected by
Marco Tigano
Thomas Jefferson University

  1. Bioessays. 2023 Jan 29. e2200160
      Mitochondria hold diverse and pivotal roles in fundamental processes that govern cell survival, differentiation, and death, in addition to organismal growth, maintenance, and aging. The mitochondrial protein import system is a major contributor to mitochondrial biogenesis and lies at the crossroads between mitochondrial and cellular homeostasis. Recent findings highlight the mitochondrial protein import system as a signaling hub, receiving inputs from other cellular compartments and adjusting its function accordingly. Impairment of protein import, in a physiological, or disease context, elicits adaptive responses inside and outside mitochondria. In this review, we discuss recent developments, relevant to the mechanisms of mitochondrial protein import regulation, with a particular focus on quality control, proteostatic and metabolic cellular responses, triggered upon impairment of mitochondrial protein import.
    Keywords:  metabolism; mitochondrial protein import; mitochondrial unfolded protein response; mitophagy; proteostasis
  2. Methods Cell Biol. 2023 ;pii: S0091-679X(22)00143-1. [Epub ahead of print]174 93-111
      Mitophagy is a finely regulated mechanism through which eukaryotic cells selectively dispose of supernumerary, permeabilized or otherwise damaged mitochondria through lysosomal degradation. Dysfunctional mitochondria are prone to release potentially cytotoxic factors including reactive oxygen species (ROS) and caspase activators, such as cytochrome c, somatic (CYCS). Thus, proficient mitophagic responses mediate prominent cytoprotective functions. Moreover, the rapid degradation of permeabilized mitochondria limits the release of mitochondrial components that may drive inflammatory reactions, such as mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and transcription factor A, mitochondrial (TFAM), implying that mitophagy also mediates potent anti-inflammatory effects. Here, we detail a simple, flow cytometry-assisted protocol for the specific measurement of mitophagic responses as driven by radiation therapy (RT) in mouse hormone receptor (HR)+ mammary carcinoma TS/A cells. With some variations, this method - which relies on the mitochondria-restricted expression of a fluorescent reporter that is sensitive to pH and hence changes excitation wavelength within lysosomes (mt-mKeima) - can be adapted to a variety of human and mouse cancer cell lines and/or straightforwardly implemented on fluorescence microscopy platforms.
    Keywords:  Antimycin; Autophagy; CGAS/STING1; NLRP3 inflammasome; Oligomycin; PRKN; SARRP
  3. PNAS Nexus. 2022 Sep;1(4): pgac192
      Mitochondria are cellular organelles of crucial relevance for the survival of metazoan organisms. Damage to the mitochondrial DNA can give rise to a variety of mitochondrial diseases and is thought also to be involved in the aging process. The fate of mtDNA mutants is controlled by their synthesis as well as degradation and mathematical models can help to better understand this complex interplay. We present here a model that combines a replicative advantage for mtDNA mutants with selective degradation enabled by mitochondrial fission and fusion processes. The model not only shows that the cell has efficient means to deal with (many) types of mutants but, surprisingly, also predicts that under certain conditions a stable co-existence of mutant and wild-type mtDNAs is possible. We discuss how this new finding might explain how mitochondria can be at the heart of processes with such different phenotypes as mitochondrial diseases and aging.
    Keywords:  aging; mathematical model; mitochondrial disease
  4. EMBO J. 2023 Feb 02. e112094
      DNA-PKcs is a key regulator of DNA double-strand break repair. Apart from its canonical role in the DNA damage response, DNA-PKcs is involved in the cellular response to oxidative stress (OS), but its exact role remains unclear. Here, we report that DNA-PKcs-deficient human cells display depolarized mitochondria membrane potential (MMP) and reoriented metabolism, supporting a role for DNA-PKcs in oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS). DNA-PKcs directly interacts with mitochondria proteins ANT2 and VDAC2, and formation of the DNA-PKcs/ANT2/VDAC2 (DAV) complex supports optimal exchange of ADP and ATP across mitochondrial membranes to energize the cell via OXPHOS and to maintain MMP. Moreover, we demonstrate that the DAV complex temporarily dissociates in response to oxidative stress to attenuate ADP-ATP exchange, a rate-limiting step for OXPHOS. Finally, we found that dissociation of the DAV complex is mediated by phosphorylation of DNA-PKcs at its Thr2609 cluster by ATM kinase. Based on these findings, we propose that the coordination between the DAV complex and ATM serves as a novel oxidative stress checkpoint to decrease ROS production from mitochondrial OXPHOS and to hasten cellular recovery from OS.
    Keywords:  ANT2; ATM; DNA-PKcs; VDAC2; mitochondrial oxidative stress checkpoint
  5. Neurobiol Dis. 2023 Feb 01. pii: S0969-9961(23)00045-1. [Epub ahead of print] 106031
      Organelle contact sites are multifunctional platforms for maintaining cellular homeostasis. Alternations of the mitochondria-associated membranes (MAM), one of the organelle contact sites where the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) is tethered to the mitochondria, have been involved in the pathogenesis of neurodegenerative diseases, including amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). However, the detailed mechanisms through which MAM integrity is disrupted in ALS have not been fully elucidated. Here, we examined whether AAA ATPase domain-containing protein 3A (ATAD3A), a mitochondrial membrane AAA ATPase accumulating at the MAM, is involved in ALS. We found that sigma-1 receptor (σ1R), an ER-resident MAM protein causative for inherited juvenile ALS, required ATAD3A to maintain the MAM. In addition, σ1R retained ATAD3A as a monomer, which is associated with an inhibition of mitochondrial fragmentation. ATAD3A dimerization and mitochondrial fragmentation were significantly induced in σ1R-deficient or SOD1-linked ALS mouse spinal cords. Overall, these observations indicate that MAM induction by σ1R depends on ATAD3A and that σ1R maintains ATAD3A as a monomer to inhibit mitochondrial fragmentation. Our findings suggest that targeting σ1R-ATAD3A axis would be promising for a novel therapeutic strategy to treat mitochondrial dysfunction in neurological disorders, including ALS.
    Keywords:  ATPase domain-containing; Lateral sclerosis; Mitochondria-associated membrane/sigma-1; Protein 3A/amyotrophic; Receptor/AAA
  6. bioRxiv. 2023 Jan 04. pii: 2023.01.04.522687. [Epub ahead of print]
      Autophagy dysfunction has been associated with several neurodegenerative diseases including glaucoma, characterized by the degeneration of retinal ganglion cells (RGCs). However, the mechanisms by which autophagy dysfunction promotes RGC damage remain unclear. Here, we hypothesized that perturbation of the autophagy pathway results in increased autophagic demand, thereby downregulating signaling through mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1), a negative regulator of autophagy, contributing to the degeneration of RGCs. We identified an impairment of autophagic-lysosomal degradation and decreased mTORC1 signaling via activation of the stress sensor adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase (AMPK), along with subsequent neurodegeneration in RGCs differentiated from human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) with a glaucoma-associated variant of Optineurin (OPTN-E50K). Similarly, the microbead occlusion model of glaucoma resulting in ocular hypertension also exhibited autophagy disruption and mTORC1 downregulation. Pharmacological inhibition of mTORC1 in hPSC-derived RGCs recapitulated disease-related neurodegenerative phenotypes in otherwise healthy RGCs, while the mTOR-independent induction of autophagy reduced protein accumulation and restored neurite outgrowth in diseased OPTN-E50K RGCs. Taken together, these results highlight an important balance between autophagy and mTORC1 signaling essential for RGC homeostasis, while disruption to these pathways contributes to neurodegenerative features in glaucoma, providing a potential therapeutic target to prevent neurodegeneration.
  7. bioRxiv. 2023 Jan 18. pii: 2023.01.16.524176. [Epub ahead of print]
      Cristae membrane state plays a central role in regulating mitochondrial function and cellular metabolism. The protein Optic atrophy 1 (Opa1) is an important crista remodeler that exists as two forms in the mitochondrion, a membrane-anchored long form (l-Opa1) and a processed short form (s-Opa1). The mechanisms for how Opa1 influences cristae shape have remained unclear due to the lack of native 3D views of cristae morphology. We perform in situ cryo-electron tomography of cryo-focused ion beam milled mouse embryonic fibroblasts with well-defined Opa1 states to understand how each form of Opa1 influences cristae architecture. In our tomograms, we observe elongated mitochondria with a notable stacking phenotype, as well as an absence of tubular cristae, when only l-Opa1 is present. In contrast, when mitochondria contain mainly s-Opa1, we observe irregular cristae packing, an increase in globular cristae, and decreased matrix condensation. Notably, we find the absence of l-Opa1 results in mitochondria with wider cristae junctions. BH3 profiling reveals that absence of l-Opa1 reduces cytochrome c release in response to pro-apoptotic stimuli and protects cells from apoptosis induced by anti-cancer agents. We discuss the implications Opa1-dependent cristae morphologies in cell death initiation.Highlights: In situ ultrastructural characterization of mitochondrial cristae with different forms of Opa1. Mitochondria with predominantly l-Opa1 show cristae stacking, longer cristae compared to WT, but also a reduction of globular cristae and no tubular cristae.Mitochondria with mostly s-Opa1 showed irregular cristae packing with wider cristae junctions and more narrow cristae than WT.BH3 profiling show Opa1-knock-out cells have reduced apoptotic priming and reduced sensitivity to apoptosis-inducing agents, and the presence l-Opa1 restores a WT protective apoptotic response.
  8. bioRxiv. 2023 Jan 18. pii: 2023.01.17.524444. [Epub ahead of print]
      DNA damage can activate apoptotic and non-apoptotic forms of cell death; however, it remains unclear what features dictate which type of cell death is activated. We report that p53 controls the choice between apoptotic and non-apoptotic death following exposure to lethal levels of DNA damage. The canonical response to DNA damage involves p53-dependent activation of cell intrinsic apoptosis, downstream of DNA damage response (DDR) activation. Decades of research suggest that DNA damage does not robustly activate cell death in the absence of p53. In contrast, we find that p53-deficient cells die at high rates following exposure to DNA damage, but exclusively using non-apoptotic types of cell death. Our experimental and computational analyses demonstrate that non-apoptotic death in p53-deficient cells has generally been missed due to use of assays that are either insensitive to cell death, or that specifically measure apoptotic cells. To characterize which subtype of non-apoptotic death is activated by DNA damage in p53-deficient cells, we used functional genetic screening, with an analysis method that enables computational inference of the drug-induced death rate, rather than the relative population size. We find in p53-deficient cells that DNA damage activates a mitochondrial respiration-dependent form of cell death called MPT-driven necrosis. This study reveals how the dual functions of p53 in regulating mitochondrial activity and the DDR combine to facilitate choice between apoptotic and non-apoptotic death following DNA damage.
  9. bioRxiv. 2023 Jan 19. pii: 2023.01.19.524708. [Epub ahead of print]
      A complex interplay between mRNA translation and cellular respiration has been recently unveiled, but its regulation in humans is poorly characterized in either health or disease. Cancer cells radically reshape both biosynthetic and bioenergetic pathways to sustain their aberrant growth rates. In this regard, we have shown that the molecular chaperone TRAP1 not only regulates the activity of respiratory complexes, behaving alternatively as an oncogene or a tumor suppressor, but also plays a concomitant moonlighting function in mRNA translation regulation. Herein we identify the molecular mechanisms involved, demonstrating that TRAP1: i) binds both mitochondrial and cytosolic ribosomes as well as translation elongation factors, ii) slows down translation elongation rate, and iii) favors localized translation in the proximity of mitochondria. We also provide evidence that TRAP1 is coexpressed in human tissues with the mitochondrial translational machinery, which is responsible for the synthesis of respiratory complex proteins. Altogether, our results show an unprecedented level of complexity in the regulation of cancer cell metabolism, strongly suggesting the existence of a tight feedback loop between protein synthesis and energy metabolism, based on the demonstration that a single molecular chaperone plays a role in both mitochondrial and cytosolic translation, as well as in mitochondrial respiration.
  10. medRxiv. 2023 Jan 19. pii: 2023.01.19.23284696. [Epub ahead of print]
      Human mitochondria contain a high copy number, maternally transmitted genome (mtDNA) that encodes 13 proteins required for oxidative phosphorylation. Heteroplasmy arises when multiple mtDNA variants co-exist in an individual and can exhibit complex dynamics in disease and in aging. As all proteins involved in mtDNA replication and maintenance are nuclear-encoded, heteroplasmy levels can, in principle, be under nuclear genetic control, however this has never been shown in humans. Here, we develop algorithms to quantify mtDNA copy number (mtCN) and heteroplasmy levels using blood-derived whole genome sequences from 274,832 individuals of diverse ancestry and perform GWAS to identify nuclear loci controlling these traits. After careful correction for blood cell composition, we observe that mtCN declines linearly with age and is associated with 92 independent nuclear genetic loci. We find that nearly every individual carries heteroplasmic variants that obey two key patterns: (1) heteroplasmic single nucleotide variants are somatic mutations that accumulate sharply after age 70, while (2) heteroplasmic indels are maternally transmitted as mtDNA mixtures with resulting levels influenced by 42 independent nuclear loci involved in mtDNA replication, maintenance, and novel pathways. These nuclear loci do not appear to act by mtDNA mutagenesis, but rather, likely act by conferring a replicative advantage to specific mtDNA molecules. As an illustrative example, the most common heteroplasmy we identify is a length variant carried by >50% of humans at position m.302 within a G-quadruplex known to serve as a replication switch. We find that this heteroplasmic variant exerts cis -acting genetic control over mtDNA abundance and is itself under trans -acting genetic control of nuclear loci encoding protein components of this regulatory switch. Our study showcases how nuclear haplotype can privilege the replication of specific mtDNA molecules to shape mtCN and heteroplasmy dynamics in the human population.
  11. bioRxiv. 2023 Jan 22. pii: 2023.01.22.525086. [Epub ahead of print]
      The ability to map genetic interactions has been essential for determining gene function and defining biological pathways. Therefore, a system to readily perform genome-wide genetic modifier screens in human cells is a powerful platform for dissecting complex processes in mammalian cells, where redundancy and adaptation commonly mask the phenotype of a single genetic perturbation. Here, we report a CRISPR interference (CRISPRi) based platform, compatible with Fluorescence Activated Cell Sorting (FACS)-based reporter screens, that can be used to query epistatic relationships at scale. This is enabled by a flexible dual-sgRNA library design that allows for the simultaneous delivery and selection of a fixed sgRNA and a second randomized guide, comprised of a genome-wide library, with a single transduction. As a proof of principle, we apply our approach to study the pathways that mediate tail-anchored (TA) protein insertion at the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). We show that this dual-guide library approach can be successfully coupled with FACS-based reporter screening, to identify genetic epistasis and thereby place TA biogenesis factors in their respective parallel pathways. We demonstrate that this dual-guide approach is both more sensitive and specific than traditional growth screening approaches, and is ideally suited for dissecting the complex interplay between factors in human cells.
  12. Front Immunol. 2022 ;13 1090358
      Background: Trauma-induced immune dysfunction has been a major barrier to achieving reduced mortality, which is poorly understood. Autophagy is a crucial catabolic mechanism of immune cells during times of stress. Few studies have investigated the immune regulatory effects induced by autophagy after trauma. Here, we use single-cell transcriptomics analysis in a major trauma cohort to demonstrate the dominant role of autophagy in innate immune cells during the early stages of major trauma.Method: Single-cell transcriptional profiling of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) was performed, which were sampled from three control participants and five major trauma patients within 6 hours of injury. In detail, after single-cell RNA-sequence data processing, cell type annotation and cluster marker identification were performed. A genetic toolbox with 604 autophagy-related genes was used to monitor the autophagy levels in immune cells. In addition, all transcriptome RNA sequencing data obtained from PBMCs in a cohort of 167 major trauma patients were downloaded from gene expression omnibus (GEO) datasets (GSE36809). Key deregulated biological processes and important autophagic hub genes involved in immune cells were identified by weighted gene co-expression network analysis and gene ontology enrichment analysis.
    Results: A total of 20,445 differentially expressed genes were identified and five co-expression modules were constructed. Enrichment analysis indicated that activated autophagy is the most important biological process during the early stages of major trauma, and JMY (autophagy-related genes) were identified as hub genes. The single-cell transcriptional profiling of PBMCs demonstrated that all components of adaptive immune cells were significantly decreased, whereas components of innate immune cells (monocytes and neutrophils) were significantly increased in major trauma patients compared with control participants. Activated autophagy was detected in monocytes and neutrophils by monitoring the dynamic transcriptional signature of the autophagy-related genetic toolbox. Biological process analysis shows that antigen uptake, processing presentation, and major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II protein complex assembly pathways were up-regulated in autophagy-positive monocytes, whereas antigen processing and presentation of endogenous antigen and type I interferon signaling pathways were up-regulated in autophagy-positive neutrophils during the early stages of major trauma.
    Conclusion: Our study demonstrated that autophagy is a biological process crucial to the development of immune disorders in the early stages of major trauma. Furthermore, the results of our study generated a comprehensive single-cell immune landscape for major trauma patients, in which we determined that autophagy profoundly affects the main functions of innate immune cells and provides insight into the cellular basis of immune dysregulation after major trauma.
    Keywords:  autophagy; innate immune cells; major trauma; monocyte; neutrophil; single-cell sequencing; trauma-induced immune dysfunction
  13. bioRxiv. 2023 Jan 03. pii: 2023.01.03.522655. [Epub ahead of print]
      Genetic interactions mediate the emergence of phenotype from genotype, but initial technologies for multiplex genetic perturbation in mammalian cells suffer from inefficiency and are challenging to scale. Recent focus on paralog synthetic lethality in cancer cells offers an opportunity to evaluate different CRISPR/Cas multiplexing technologies and improve on the state of the art. Here we report a meta-analysis of CRISPR genetic interactions screens, identifying a candidate set of background-independent paralog synthetic lethals, and find that the CRISPR/enCas12a platform provides superior sensitivity and assay replicability. We demonstrate that enCas12a can independently target up to four genes from a single guide array, and build on this knowledge by constructing a one-component library that expresses arrays of four guides per clone, a platform we call 'in4mer'. Our genome-scale human library, with only 44k clones, is substantially smaller than a typical CRISPR/Cas9 monogenic library while also targeting more than two thousand paralog pairs, triples, and quads. Proof of concept screens in two cell lines demonstrate discrimination of core and context-dependent essential genes similar to that of state of the art CRISPR/Cas9 libraries, as well as detection of synthetic lethal and masking (also known as buffering) genetic interactions between paralogs of various family sizes, a capability not offered by any extant library. Importantly, the in4mer platform offers a fivefold reduction in the number of clones required to assay genetic interactions, dramatically improving the cost and effort required for these studies.