Targeted impairment of thymidine kinase 2 expression in cells induces mitochondrial DNA depletion and reveals molecular mechanisms of compensation of mitochondrial respiratory activity.
ABSTRACT: The mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) depletion syndrome comprises a clinically heterogeneous group of diseases characterized by reductions of the mtDNA abundance, without associated point mutations or rearrangements. We have developed the first in vitro model to study of mtDNA depletion due to reduced mitochondrial thymidine kinase 2 gene (TK2) expression in order to understand the molecular mechanisms involved in mtDNA depletion syndrome due to TK2 mutations. Small interfering RNA targeting TK2 mRNA was used to decrease TK2 expression in Ost TK1(-) cells, a cell line devoid of endogenous thymidine kinase 1 (TK1). Stable TK2-deficient cell lines showed a reduction of TK2 levels close to 80%. In quiescent conditions, TK2-deficient cells showed severe mtDNA depletion, also close to 80% the control levels. However, TK2-deficient clones showed increased cytochrome c oxidase activity, higher cytochrome c oxidase subunit I transcript levels and higher subunit II protein expression respect to control cells. No alterations of the deoxynucleotide pools were found, whereas a reduction in the expression of genes involved in nucleoside/nucleotide homeostasis (human equilibrative nucleoside transporter 1, thymidine phosphorylase) and mtDNA maintenance (DNA-polymerase ?, mitochondrial transcription factor A) was observed. Our findings highlight the importance of cellular compensatory mechanisms that enhance the expression of respiratory components to ensure respiratory activity despite profound depletion in mtDNA levels.
Project description:BACKGROUND:TK2 is a nuclear gene encoding the mitochondrial matrix protein thymidine kinase 2 (TK2), a critical enzyme in the mitochondrial nucleotide salvage pathway. Deficiency of TK2 activity causes mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) depletion, which in humans manifests predominantly as a mitochondrial myopathy with onset typically in infancy and childhood. We previously showed that oral treatment of the Tk2 H126N knock-in mouse model (Tk2-/-) with the TK2 substrates, deoxycytidine (dCtd) and thymidine (dThd), delayed disease onset and prolonged median survival by 3-fold. Nevertheless, dCtd?+?dThd treated Tk2-/- mice showed mtDNA depletion in brain as early as postnatal day 13 and in virtually all other tissues at age 29?days. METHODS:To enhance mechanistic understanding and efficacy of dCtd?+?dThd therapy, we studied the bioavailability of dCtd and dThd in various tissues as well as levels of the cytosolic enzymes, TK1 and dCK that convert the deoxynucleosides into dCMP and dTMP. FINDINGS:Parenteral treatment relative to oral treatment produced higher levels of dCtd and dThd and improved mtDNA levels in liver and heart, but did not ameliorate molecular defects in brain or prolong survival. Down-regulation of TK1 correlated with temporal- and tissue-specificity of response to dCtd?+?dThd. Finally, we observed in human infant and adult muscle expression of TK1 and dCK, which account for the long-term efficacy to dCtd?+?dThd therapy in TK2 deficient patients. INTERPRETATIONS:These data indicate that the cytosolic pyrimidine salvage pathway enzymes TK1 and dCK are critical for therapeutic efficacy of deoxynucleoside therapy for Tk2 deficiency. FUND: National Institutes of Health P01HD32062.
Project description:Deficiency of thymidine kinase 2 (TK2) is a frequent cause of isolated myopathy or encephalomyopathy in children with mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) depletion. To determine the bases of disease onset, organ specificity and severity of TK2 deficiency, we have carefully characterized Tk2 H126N knockin mice (Tk2-/-). Although normal until postnatal day 8, Tk2-/- mice rapidly develop fatal encephalomyopathy between postnatal days 10 and 13. We have observed that wild-type Tk2 activity is constant in the second week of life, while Tk1 activity decreases significantly between postnatal days 8 and 13. The down-regulation of Tk1 activity unmasks Tk2 deficiency in Tk2-/- mice and correlates with the onset of mtDNA depletion in the brain and the heart. Resistance to pathology in Tk2 mutant organs depends on compensatory mechanisms to the reduced mtDNA level. Our analyses at postnatal day 13 have revealed that Tk2-/- heart significantly increases mitochondrial transcript levels relative to the mtDNA content. This transcriptional compensation allows the heart to maintain normal levels of mtDNA-encoded proteins. The up-regulation in mitochondrial transcripts is not due to increased expression of the master mitochondrial biogenesis regulators peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-gamma coactivator 1 alpha and nuclear respiratory factors 1 and 2, or to enhanced expression of the mitochondrial transcription factors A, B1 or B2. Instead, Tk2-/- heart compensates for mtDNA depletion by down-regulating the expression of the mitochondrial transcriptional terminator transcription factor 3 (MTERF3). Understanding the molecular mechanisms that allow Tk2 mutant organs to be spared may help design therapies for Tk2 deficiency.
Project description:Mitochondrial thymidine kinase 2 (TK2) and deoxyguanosine kinase (dGK) catalyze the initial phosphorylation of deoxynucleosides in the synthesis of the DNA precursors required for mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) replication and are essential for mitochondrial function. Antiviral nucleosides are known to cause toxic mitochondrial side effects. Here, we examined the effects of 3'-azido-2',3'-dideoxythymidine (AZT) (zidovudine) on mitochondrial TK2 and dGK levels and found that AZT treatment led to downregulation of mitochondrial TK2 and dGK in U2OS cells, whereas cytosolic deoxycytidine kinase (dCK) and thymidine kinase 1 (TK1) levels were not affected. The AZT effects on mitochondrial TK2 and dGK were similar to those of oxidants (e.g., hydrogen peroxide); therefore, we examined the oxidative effects of AZT. We found a modest increase in cellular reactive oxygen species (ROS) levels in the AZT-treated cells. The addition of uridine to AZT-treated cells reduced ROS levels and protein oxidation and prevented the degradation of mitochondrial TK2 and dGK. In organello studies indicated that the degradation of mitochondrial TK2 and dGK is a mitochondrial event. These results suggest that downregulation of mitochondrial TK2 and dGK may lead to decreased mitochondrial DNA precursor pools and eventually mtDNA depletion, which has significant implications for the regulation of mitochondrial nucleotide biosynthesis and for antiviral therapy using nucleoside analogs.
Project description:Mitochondrial toxicity limits nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs) for acquired immune deficiency syndrome. NRTI triphosphates, the active moieties, inhibit human immunodeficiency virus reverse transcriptase and eukaryotic mitochondrial DNA polymerase pol-gamma. NRTI phosphorylation seems to correlate with mitochondrial toxicity, but experimental evidence is lacking. Transgenic mice (TGs) with cardiac overexpression of thymidine kinase isoforms (mitochondrial TK2 and cytoplasmic TK1) were used to study NRTI mitochondrial toxicity. Echocardiography and nuclear magnetic resonance imaging defined cardiac performance and structure. TK gene copy and enzyme activity, mitochondrial (mt) DNA and polypeptide abundance, succinate dehydrogenase and cytochrome oxidase histochemistry, and electron microscopy correlated with transgenesis, mitochondrial structure, and biogenesis. Antiretroviral combinations simulated therapy. Untreated hTK1 or TK2 TGs exhibited normal left ventricle mass. In TK2 TGs, cardiac TK2 gene copy doubled, activity increased 300-fold, and mtDNA abundance doubled. Abundance of the 17-kd subunit of complex I, succinate dehydrogenase histochemical activity, and cristae density increased. NRTIs increased left ventricle mass 20% in TK2 TGs. TK activity increased 3 logs in hTK1 TGs, but no cardiac phenotype resulted. NRTIs abrogated functional effects of transgenically increased TK2 activity but had no effect on TK2 mtDNA abundance. Thus, NRTI mitochondrial phosphorylation by TK2 is integral to clinical NRTI mitochondrial toxicity.
Project description:This study addresses how depletion of human cardiac left ventricle (LV) mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and epigenetic nuclear DNA methylation promote cardiac dysfunction in human dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) through regulation of pyrimidine nucleotide kinases. Samples of DCM LV and right ventricle (n = 18) were obtained fresh at heart transplant surgery. Parallel samples from nonfailing (NF) controls (n = 12) were from donor hearts found unsuitable for clinical use. We analyzed abundance of mtDNA and nuclear DNA (nDNA) using qPCR. LV mtDNA was depleted in DCM (50%, P < 0.05 each) compared with NF. No detectable change in RV mtDNA abundance occurred. DNA methylation and gene expression were determined using microarray analysis (GEO accession number: GSE43435). Fifty-seven gene promoters exhibited DNA hypermethylation or hypomethylation in DCM LVs. Among those, cytosolic thymidine kinase 1 (TK1) was hypermethylated. Expression arrays revealed decreased abundance of the TK1 mRNA transcript with no change in transcripts for other relevant thymidine metabolism enzymes. Quantitative immunoblots confirmed decreased TK1 polypeptide steady state abundance. TK1 activity remained unchanged in DCM samples while mitochondrial thymidine kinase (TK2) activity was significantly reduced. Compensatory TK activity was found in cardiac myocytes in the DCM LV. Diminished TK2 activity is mechanistically important to reduced mtDNA abundance and identified in DCM LV samples here. Epigenetic and genetic changes result in changes in mtDNA and in nucleotide substrates for mtDNA replication and underpin energy starvation in DCM.
Project description:Mammal adipose tissues require mitochondrial activity for proper development and differentiation. The components of the mitochondrial respiratory chain/oxidative phosphorylation system (OXPHOS) are encoded by both mitochondrial and nuclear genomes. The maintenance of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is a key element for a functional mitochondrial oxidative activity in mammalian cells. To ascertain the role of mtDNA levels in adipose tissue, we have analyzed the alterations in white (WAT) and brown (BAT) adipose tissues in thymidine kinase 2 (Tk2) H126N knockin mice, a model of TK2 deficiency-induced mtDNA depletion. We observed respectively severe and moderate mtDNA depletion in TK2-deficient BAT and WAT, showing both tissues moderate hypotrophy and reduced fat accumulation. Electron microscopy revealed altered mitochondrial morphology in brown but not in white adipocytes from TK2-deficient mice. Although significant reduction in mtDNA-encoded transcripts was observed both in WAT and BAT, protein levels from distinct OXPHOS complexes were significantly reduced only in TK2-deficient BAT. Accordingly, the activity of cytochrome c oxidase was significantly lowered only in BAT from TK2-deficient mice. The analysis of transcripts encoding up to fourteen components of specific adipose tissue functions revealed that, in both TK2-deficient WAT and BAT, there was a consistent reduction of thermogenesis related gene expression and a severe reduction in leptin mRNA. Reduced levels of resistin mRNA were found in BAT from TK2-deficient mice. Analysis of serum indicated a dramatic reduction in circulating levels of leptin and resistin. In summary, our present study establishes that mtDNA depletion leads to a moderate impairment in mitochondrial respiratory function, especially in BAT, causes substantial alterations in WAT and BAT development, and has a profound impact in the endocrine properties of adipose tissues.
Project description:Nucleoside metabolism enzymes are determinants of chemotherapeutic drug activity. The nucleoside salvage enzyme deoxycytidine kinase (dCK) activates gemcitabine (2', 2'-difluoro-2'-deoxycytidine) and is negatively regulated by deoxycytidine triphosphate (dCTP). Reduction of dCTP in tumor cells could, therefore, enhance gemcitabine activity. Mitochondrial thymidine kinase 2 (TK2) phosphorylates deoxycytidine to generate dCTP. We hypothesized that: (1) TK2 modulates human tumor cell sensitivity to gemcitabine, and (2) antisense knockdown of TK2 would decrease dCTP and increase dCK activity and gemcitabine activation. siRNA downregulation of TK2 sensitized MCF7 and HeLa cells (high and moderate TK2) but not A549 cells (low TK2) to gemcitabine. Combined treatment with TK2 siRNA and gemcitabine increased dCK. We also hypothesized that TK2 siRNA-induced drug sensitization results in mitochondrial damage that enhances gemcitabine effectiveness. TK2 siRNA and gemcitabine decreased mitochondrial redox status, DNA content, and activity. This is the first demonstration of a direct role for TK2 in gemcitabine resistance, or any independent role in cancer drug resistance, and further distinguishes TK2 function from that of other dTMP-producing enzymes [cytosolic TK1 and thymidylate synthase (TS)]. siRNA knockdown of TK1 and/or TS did not sensitize cancer cells to gemcitabine indicating that, among the 3 enzymes, only TK2 is a candidate therapeutic target for combination with gemcitabine.
Project description:Loss of thymidine kinase 2 (TK2) causes a heterogeneous myopathic form of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) depletion syndrome (MDS) in humans that predominantly affects skeletal muscle tissue. In mice, TK2 deficiency also affects several tissues in addition to skeletal muscle, including brain, heart, adipose tissue, kidneys and causes death about 3 weeks after birth. We analysed skeletal muscle and heart muscle tissues of Tk2 knockout mice at postnatal development phase and observed that TK2 deficient pups grew slower and their skeletal muscles appeared significantly underdeveloped, whereas heart was close to normal in size. Both tissues showed mtDNA depletion and mitochondria with altered ultrastructure, as revealed by transmission electron microscopy. Gene expression microarray analysis showed a strong down-regulation of genes involved in cell cycle and cell proliferation in both tissues, suggesting a lower pool of undifferentiated proliferating cells. Analysis of isolated primary myoblasts from Tk2 knockout mice showed slow proliferation, less ability to differentiate and signs of premature senescence, even in absence of mtDNA depletion. Our data demonstrate that TK2 deficiency disturbs myogenic progenitor cells function in postnatal skeletal muscle and we propose this as one of the causes of underdeveloped phenotype and myopathic characteristic of the TK2 deficient mice, in addition to the progressive mtDNA depletion, mitochondrial damage and respiratory chain deficiency in post-mitotic differentiated tissue.
Project description:Mutations of thymidine kinase 2 (TK2), an essential component of the mitochondrial nucleotide salvage pathway, can give rise to mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) depletion syndromes (MDS). These clinically heterogeneous disorders are characterized by severe reduction in mtDNA copy number in affected tissues and are associated with progressive myopathy, hepatopathy and/or encephalopathy, depending in part on the underlying nuclear genetic defect. Mutations of TK2 have previously been associated with an isolated myopathic form of MDS (OMIM 609560). However, more recently, neurological phenotypes have been demonstrated in patients carrying TK2 mutations, thus suggesting that loss of TK2 results in neuronal dysfunction. Here, we directly address the role of TK2 in neuronal homeostasis using a knockout mouse model. We demonstrate that in vivo loss of TK2 activity leads to a severe ataxic phenotype, accompanied by reduced mtDNA copy number and decreased steady-state levels of electron transport chain proteins in the brain. In TK2-deficient cerebellar neurons, these abnormalities are associated with impaired mitochondrial bioenergetic function, aberrant mitochondrial ultrastructure and degeneration of selected neuronal types. Overall, our findings demonstrate that TK2 deficiency leads to neuronal dysfunction in vivo, and have important implications for understanding the mechanisms of neurological impairment in MDS.
Project description:Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) depletion syndrome (MDS), an autosomal recessive condition, is characterized by variable organ involvement with decreased mtDNA copy number and activities of respiratory chain enzymes in affected tissues. MtDNA depletion has been associated with mutations in nine autosomal genes, including thymidine kinase (TK2), which encodes a ubiquitous mitochondrial protein. To study the pathogenesis of TK2-deficiency, we generated mice harboring an H126N Tk2 mutation. Homozygous Tk2 mutant (Tk2(-/-)) mice developed rapidly progressive weakness after age 10 days and died between ages 2 and 3 weeks. Tk2(-/-) animals showed Tk2 deficiency, unbalanced dNTP pools, mtDNA depletion and defects of respiratory chain enzymes containing mtDNA-encoded subunits that were most prominent in the central nervous system. Histopathology revealed an encephalomyelopathy with prominent vacuolar changes in the anterior horn of the spinal cord. The H126N TK2 mouse is the first knock-in animal model of human MDS and demonstrates that the severity of TK2 deficiency in tissues may determine the organ-specific phenotype.