Mathematical modeling of the role of mitochondrial fusion and fission in mitochondrial DNA maintenance.
ABSTRACT: Accumulation of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) mutations has been implicated in a wide range of human pathologies, including neurodegenerative diseases, sarcopenia, and the aging process itself. In cells, mtDNA molecules are constantly turned over (i.e. replicated and degraded) and are also exchanged among mitochondria during the fusion and fission of these organelles. While the expansion of a mutant mtDNA population is believed to occur by random segregation of these molecules during turnover, the role of mitochondrial fusion-fission in this context is currently not well understood. In this study, an in silico modeling approach is taken to investigate the effects of mitochondrial fusion and fission dynamics on mutant mtDNA accumulation. Here we report model simulations suggesting that when mitochondrial fusion-fission rate is low, the slow mtDNA mixing can lead to an uneven distribution of mutant mtDNA among mitochondria in between two mitochondrial autophagic events leading to more stochasticity in the outcomes from a single random autophagic event. Consequently, slower mitochondrial fusion-fission results in higher variability in the mtDNA mutation burden among cells in a tissue over time, and mtDNA mutations have a higher propensity to clonally expand due to the increased stochasticity. When these mutations affect cellular energetics, nuclear retrograde signalling can upregulate mtDNA replication, which is expected to slow clonal expansion of these mutant mtDNA. However, our simulations suggest that the protective ability of retrograde signalling depends on the efficiency of fusion-fission process. Our results thus shed light on the interplay between mitochondrial fusion-fission and mtDNA turnover and may explain the mechanism underlying the experimentally observed increase in the accumulation of mtDNA mutations when either mitochondrial fusion or fission is inhibited.
Project description:The accumulation of mutant mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) molecules in aged cells has been associated with mitochondrial dysfunction, age-related diseases and the ageing process itself. This accumulation has been shown to often occur clonally, where mutant mtDNA grow in number and overpopulate the wild-type mtDNA. However, the cell possesses quality control (QC) mechanisms that maintain mitochondrial function, in which dysfunctional mitochondria are isolated and removed by selective fusion and mitochondrial autophagy (mitophagy), respectively. The aim of this study is to elucidate the circumstances related to mitochondrial QC that allow the expansion of mutant mtDNA molecules. For the purpose of the study, we have developed a mathematical model of mitochondrial QC process by extending our previous validated model of mitochondrial turnover and fusion-fission. A global sensitivity analysis of the model suggested that the selectivity of mitophagy and fusion is the most critical QC parameter for clearing de novo mutant mtDNA molecules. We further simulated several scenarios involving perturbations of key QC parameters to gain a better understanding of their dynamic and synergistic interactions. Our model simulations showed that a higher frequency of mitochondrial fusion-fission can provide a faster clearance of mutant mtDNA, but only when mutant-rich mitochondria that are transiently created are efficiently prevented from re-fusing with other mitochondria and selectively removed. Otherwise, faster fusion-fission quickens the accumulation of mutant mtDNA. Finally, we used the insights gained from model simulations and analysis to propose a possible circumstance involving deterioration of mitochondrial QC that permits mutant mtDNA to expand with age.
Project description:Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is essential for mitochondrial and cellular function. In Saccharomyces cerevisiae, mtDNA is organized in nucleoprotein structures termed nucleoids, which are distributed throughout the mitochondrial network and are faithfully inherited during the cell cycle. How the cell distributes and inherits mtDNA is incompletely understood although an involvement of mitochondrial fission and fusion has been suggested. We developed a LacO-LacI system to noninvasively image mtDNA dynamics in living cells. Using this system, we found that nucleoids are nonrandomly spaced within the mitochondrial network and observed the spatiotemporal events involved in mtDNA inheritance. Surprisingly, cells deficient in mitochondrial fusion and fission distributed and inherited mtDNA normally, pointing to alternative pathways involved in these processes. We identified such a mechanism, where we observed fission-independent, but F-actin-dependent, tip generation that was linked to the positioning of mtDNA to the newly generated tip. Although mitochondrial fusion and fission were dispensable for mtDNA distribution and inheritance, we show through a combination of genetics and next-generation sequencing that their absence leads to an accumulation of mitochondrial genomes harboring deleterious structural variations that cluster at the origins of mtDNA replication, thus revealing crucial roles for mitochondrial fusion and fission in maintaining the integrity of the mitochondrial genome.
Project description:Esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) is an aggressive cancer with late-stage detection and poor prognosis. This emphasizes the need to identify new markers for early diagnosis and treatment. Altered mitochondrial genome (mtDNA) content in primary tumors correlates with poor patient prognosis. Here we used three-dimensional (3D) organoids of esophageal epithelial cells (EECs) from the MPV17-/- mouse model of mtDNA depletion to investigate the contribution of reduced mtDNA content in ESCC oncogenicity. To test if mtDNA defects are a contributing factor in ESCC, we used oncogenic stimuli such as ESCC carcinogen 4-nitroquinoline oxide (4-NQO) treatment, or expressing p53R175H oncogenic driver mutation. We observed that EECs and 3D-organoids with mtDNA depletion had cellular, morphological and genetic alterations typical of an oncogenic transition. Furthermore, mitochondrial dysfunction induced cellular transformation is accompanied by elevated mitochondrial fission protein, DRP1 and pharmacologic inhibition of mitochondrial fission by mDivi-1 in the MPV17-/- organoids reversed the phenotype to that of normal EEC organoids. Our studies show that mtDNA copy number depletion, activates a mitochondrial retrograde response, potentiates telomere defects, and increases the oncogenic susceptibility towards ESCC. Furthermore, mtDNA depletion driven cellular plasticity is mediated via altered mitochondrial fission-fusion dynamics.
Project description:Mutations in the Cu/Zn Superoxide Dismutase (SOD1) gene cause an inherited form of ALS with upper and lower motor neuron loss. The mechanism underlying mutant SOD1-mediated motor neuron degeneration remains unclear. While defects in mitochondrial dynamics contribute to neurodegeneration, including ALS, previous reports remain conflicted. Here, we report an improved technique to isolate, transfect, and culture rat spinal cord motor neurons. Using this improved system, we demonstrate that mutant SOD1(G93A) triggers a significant decrease in mitochondrial length and an accumulation of round fragmented mitochondria. The increase of fragmented mitochondria coincides with an arrest in both anterograde and retrograde axonal transport and increased cell death. In addition, mutant SOD1(G93A) induces a reduction in neurite length and branching that is accompanied with an abnormal accumulation of round mitochondria in growth cones. Furthermore, restoration of the mitochondrial fission and fusion balance by dominant-negative dynamin-related protein 1 (DRP1) expression rescues the mutant SOD1(G93A)-induced defects in mitochondrial morphology, dynamics, and cell viability. Interestingly, both SIRT3 and PGC-1? protect against mitochondrial fragmentation and neuronal cell death by mutant SOD1(G93A). This data suggests that impairment in mitochondrial dynamics participates in ALS and restoring this defect might provide protection against mutant SOD1(G93A)-induced neuronal injury.
Project description:Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) mutations cause severe congenital diseases but may also be associated with healthy aging. mtDNA is stochastically replicated and degraded, and exists within organelles which undergo dynamic fusion and fission. The role of the resulting mitochondrial networks in the time evolution of the cellular proportion of mutated mtDNA molecules (heteroplasmy), and cell-to-cell variability in heteroplasmy (heteroplasmy variance), remains incompletely understood. Heteroplasmy variance is particularly important since it modulates the number of pathological cells in a tissue. Here, we provide the first wide-reaching theoretical framework which bridges mitochondrial network and genetic states. We show that, under a range of conditions, the (genetic) rate of increase in heteroplasmy variance and de novo mutation are proportionally modulated by the (physical) fraction of unfused mitochondria, independently of the absolute fission-fusion rate. In the context of selective fusion, we show that intermediate fusion:fission ratios are optimal for the clearance of mtDNA mutants. Our findings imply that modulating network state, mitophagy rate, and copy number to slow down heteroplasmy dynamics when mean heteroplasmy is low could have therapeutic advantages for mitochondrial disease and healthy aging.
Project description:Mitochondria are highly mobile and dynamic organelles that continually fuse and divide. These processes allow mitochondria to exchange contents, including mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA). Here we examine the functions of mitochondrial fusion in differentiated skeletal muscle through conditional deletion of the mitofusins Mfn1 and Mfn2, mitochondrial GTPases essential for fusion. Loss of the mitofusins causes severe mitochondrial dysfunction, compensatory mitochondrial proliferation, and muscle atrophy. Mutant mice have severe mtDNA depletion in muscle that precedes physiological abnormalities. Moreover, the mitochondrial genomes of the mutant muscle rapidly accumulate point mutations and deletions. In a related experiment, we find that disruption of mitochondrial fusion strongly increases mitochondrial dysfunction and lethality in a mouse model with high levels of mtDNA mutations. With its dual function in safeguarding mtDNA integrity and preserving mtDNA function in the face of mutations, mitochondrial fusion is likely to be a protective factor in human disorders associated with mtDNA mutations.
Project description:Mitochondrial morphology, distribution and function are maintained by the opposing forces of mitochondrial fission and fusion, the perturbation of which gives rise to several neurodegenerative disorders. The large guanosine triphosphate (GTP)ase dynamin-related protein 1 (Drp1) is a critical regulator of mitochondrial fission by mediating membrane scission, often at points of mitochondrial constriction at endoplasmic reticulum (ER)-mitochondrial contacts. Hereditary spastic paraplegia (HSP) subtype SPG61 is a rare neurodegenerative disorder caused by mutations in the ER-shaping protein Arl6IP1. We have previously reported defects in both the ER and mitochondrial networks in a Drosophila model of SPG61. In this study, we report that knockdown of Arl6IP1 lowers Drp1 protein levels, resulting in reduced ER-mitochondrial contacts and impaired mitochondrial load at the distal ends of long motor neurons. Increasing mitochondrial fission, by overexpression of wild-type Drp1 but not a dominant negative Drp1, increases ER-mitochondrial contacts, restores mitochondrial load within axons and partially rescues locomotor deficits. Arl6IP1 knockdown Drosophila also demonstrate impaired autophagic flux and an accumulation of ubiquitinated proteins, which occur independent of Drp1-mediated mitochondrial fission defects. Together, these findings provide evidence that impaired mitochondrial fission contributes to neurodegeneration in this in vivo model of HSP.
Project description:Mitochondria are highly dynamic organelles that continuously fuse and divide. To maintain mitochondria, cells establish an equilibrium of fusion and fission events, which are mediated by dynamin-like GTPases. We previously showed that an mus-10 strain, a mutagen-sensitive strain of the filamentous fungus Neurospora crassa, is defective in an F-box protein that is essential for the maintenance of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), long life span, and mitochondrial morphology. Similarly, a uvs-5 mutant accumulates deletions within its mtDNA, has a shortened life span, and harbors fragmented mitochondria, the latter of which is indicative of an imbalance between mitochondrial fission and fusion. Since the uvs-5 mutation maps very close to the locus of fzo1, encoding a mitofusin homologue thought to mediate mitochondrial outer membrane fusion, we determined the sequence of the fzo1 gene in the uvs-5 mutant. A single amino acid substitution (Q368R) was found in the GTPase domain of the FZO1 protein. Expression of wild-type FZO1 in the uvs-5 strain rescued the mutant phenotypes, while expression of a mutant FZO1 protein did not. Moreover, when knock-in of the Q368R mutation was performed on a wild-type strain, the resulting mutant displayed phenotypes identical to those of the uvs-5 mutant. Therefore, we concluded that the previously unidentified uvs-5 gene is fzo1. Furthermore, we used immunoprecipitation analysis to show that the FZO1 protein interacts with MUS-10, which suggests that these two proteins may function together to maintain mitochondrial morphology.
Project description:Mutations in the mitochondrial encoded protein PTEN-induced putative kinase 1 (PINK1) cause autosomal recessive Parkinson disease (PD). In mammalian cells, mutant PINK1 has been reported to promote fission or inhibit fusion in mitochondria; however, the mechanism by which this process occurs remains elusive. Using an ecdysone-inducible expression system in mammalian dopaminergic neuronal cells, we report here that human mutant PINK1 (L347P and W437X) mediates an overall fission effect by increasing the ratio of mitochondrial fission over fusion proteins, leading to excessive dysfunctional fragmented mitochondria. Knocking down endogenous Pink1 produces similar effects. In contrast, overexpressing human wild type PINK1 produces a pro-fusion effect by increasing the ratio of mitochondrial fusion/fission proteins without resulting in functionally compromised mitochondria. Parkin knockdown blocks the imbalance in fission/fusion proteins. Furthermore, overexpressing parkin and ubiquitin increases degradation of the mitochondrial fission hFis1 protein, suggesting PINK1 and parkin maintain proper mitochondrial function and integrity via the fission/fusion machinery. Through genetic manipulations and treatment with the small molecule mitochondrial division inhibitor (mdivi-1), which inhibits DLP1/Drp1, both structural and functional mitochondrial defects induced by mutant PINK1 were attenuated, highlighting a potential novel therapeutic avenue for Parkinson disease.
Project description:Mitochondria continually move, fuse and divide, and these dynamics are essential for the proper function of the organelles. Indeed, the dynamic balance of fusion and fission of mitochondria determines their morphology and allows their immediate adaptation to energetic needs as well as preserving their integrity. As a consequence, mitochondrial fusion and fission dynamics and the proteins that control these processes, which are conserved from yeast to human, are essential, and their disturbances are associated with severe human disorders, including neurodegenerative diseases. For example, mutations in OPA1, which encodes a conserved factor essential for mitochondrial fusion, lead to optic atrophy 1, a neurodegeneration that affects the optic nerve, eventually leading to blindness. Here, by screening a collection of ∼1600 repurposed drugs on a fission yeast model, we identified five compounds able to efficiently prevent the lethality associated with the loss of Msp1p, the fission yeast ortholog of OPA1. One compound, hexestrol, was able to rescue both the mitochondrial fragmentation and mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) depletion induced by the loss of Msp1p, whereas the second, clomifene, only suppressed the mtDNA defect. Yeast has already been successfully used to identify candidate drugs to treat inherited mitochondrial diseases; this work may therefore provide useful leads for the treatment of optic atrophies such as optic atrophy 1 or Leber hereditary optic neuropathy.