Scientific Institute, IRCCS E. Medea, Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Lecco, Italy
The Fine Tuning of Drp1-Dependent Mitochondrial Remodeling and Autophagy Controls Neuronal Differentiation.
Mitochondria play a critical role in neuronal function and neurodegenerative disorders, including Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and Huntington diseases and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, that show mitochondrial dysfunctions associated with excessive fission and increased levels of the fission protein dynamin-related protein 1 (Drp1). Our data demonstrate that Drp1 regulates the transcriptional program induced by retinoic acid (RA), leading to neuronal differentiation. When Drp1 was overexpressed, mitochondria underwent remodeling but failed to elongate and this enhanced autophagy and apoptosis. When Drp1 was blocked during differentiation by overexpressing the dominant negative form or was silenced, mitochondria maintained the same elongated shape, without remodeling and this increased cell death. The enhanced apoptosis, observed with both fragmented or elongated mitochondria, was associated with increased induction of unfolded protein response (UPR) and ER-associated degradation (ERAD) processes that finally affect neuronal differentiation. These findings suggest that physiological fission and mitochondrial remodeling, associated with early autophagy induction are essential for neuronal differentiation. We thus reveal the importance of mitochondrial changes to generate viable neurons and highlight that, rather than multiple parallel events, mitochondrial changes, autophagy and apoptosis proceed in a stepwise fashion during neuronal differentiation affecting the nuclear transcriptional program.
Department of Neurosciences, University of California San Diego, San Diego
Mitochondrial Dysfunction and Multiple Sclerosis.
In recent years, several studies have examined the potential associations between mitochondrial dysfunction and neurodegenerative diseases such as multiple sclerosis (MS), Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease. In MS, neurological disability results from inflammation, demyelination, and ultimately, axonal damage within the central nervous system. The sustained inflammatory phase of the disease leads to ion channel changes and chronic oxidative stress. Several independent investigations have demonstrated mitochondrial respiratory chain deficiency in MS, as well as abnormalities in mitochondrial transport. These processes create an energy imbalance and contribute to a parallel process of progressive neurodegeneration and irreversible disability. The potential roles of mitochondria in neurodegeneration are reviewed. An overview of mitochondrial diseases that may overlap with MS are also discussed, as well as possible therapeutic targets for the treatment of MS and other neurodegenerative conditions.
The Centre for Clinical Brain Science, University of Edinburgh, Chancellor's Building, UK
Targeting mitochondria to protect axons in progressive MS
Inflammatory demyelinating processes target the neuron, particularly axons and synapses, in multiple sclerosis (MS). There is a gathering body of evidence indicating molecular changes which converge on mitochondria within neurons in progressive forms of MS. The most reproducible changes are the increase in mitochondrial content within demyelinated axons and mitochondrial respiratory chain complex deficiency in neurons, which compromises the capacity to generate ATP. The resulting lack of ATP and the likely energy failure state and its coupling with an increase in demand for energy by the demyelinated axon, are particularly relevant to the long tracts such as corticospinal tracts with long projection axons. Recent work in our laboratory and that of our collaborators indicate the limited reflection of the mitochondrial changes within neurons in the experimental disease models. Enhancing the energy producing capacity of neurons to meet the increased energy demand of demyelinated axons is likely to be a novel neuroprotective strategy in progressive MS.