In biological systems, reactive oxygen species (ROS) represent 'double edged swords': as signaling molecules they are essential for proper development, as reactive agents they cause molecular damage and adverse effects like degeneration and aging. A well-coordinated control of ROS is therefore of key importance. Superoxide dismutases (SODs) are enzymes active in the detoxification of superoxide. The number of isoforms of these proteins varies among species. Here we report the characterization of the putative protein encoded by Pa_1_10620 that has been previously annotated to code for a mitochondrial ribosomal protein but shares also sequence domains with SODs. We report that the gene is transcribed in P. anserina cultures of all ages and that the encoded protein localizes to mitochondria. In strains overexpressing Pa_1_10620 in a genetic background in which PaSod3, the mitochondrial MnSOD of P. anserina, is deleted, no SOD activity could be identified in isolated mitochondria. However, overexpression of the gene leads to lifespan extension suggesting a pro-survival function of the protein in P. anserina.
Time-dependent impairments of mitochondrial function play a key role in biological aging. Work on fungal aging models has been instrumental in unraveling basic mechanisms leading to mitochondrial dysfunction and the identification of different pathways active in keeping mitochondria 'healthy' over time. Pathways including those involved in reactive oxygen scavenging, repair of damage, proteostasis, mitochondrial dynamics, and biogenesis, are interconnected and part of a complex quality control system. The individual components of this network are limited in capacity. However, if the capacity of one pathway is overwhelmed, another one may be activated. The mechanisms controlling the underlying cross-talk are poorly understood and subject of intensive investigation.
Various molecular and cellular pathways are active in eukaryotes to control the quality and integrity of mitochondria. These pathways are involved in keeping a 'healthy' population of this essential organelle during the lifetime of the organism. Quality control (QC) systems counteract processes that lead to organellar dysfunction manifesting as degenerative diseases and ageing. We discuss disease- and ageing-related pathways involved in mitochondrial QC: mtDNA repair and reorganization, regeneration of oxidized amino acids, refolding and degradation of severely damaged proteins, degradation of whole mitochondria by mitophagy and finally programmed cell death. The control of the integrity of mtDNA and regulation of its expression is essential to remodel single proteins as well as mitochondrial complexes that determine mitochondrial functions. The redundancy of components, such as proteases, and the hierarchies of the QC raise questions about crosstalk between systems and their precise regulation. The understanding of the underlying mechanisms on the genomic, proteomic, organellar and cellular levels holds the key for the development of interventions for mitochondrial dysfunctions, degenerative processes, ageing and age-related diseases resulting from impairments of mitochondria.
The filamentous ascomycete Podospora anserina is a well-established aging model in which a variety of different pathways, including those involved in the control of respiration, ROS generation and scavenging, DNA maintenance, proteostasis, mitochondrial dynamics, and programmed cell death have previously been demonstrated to affect aging and life span. Here we address a potential role of autophagy. We provide data demonstrating high basal autophagy levels even in strains cultivated under noninduced conditions. By monitoring an N-terminal fusion of EGFP to the fungal LC3 homolog PaATG8 over the lifetime of the fungus on medium with and without nitrogen supplementation, respectively, we identified a significant increase of GFP puncta in older and in nitrogen-starved cultures suggesting an induction of autophagy during aging. This conclusion is supported by the demonstration of an age-related and autophagy-dependent degradation of a PaSOD1-GFP reporter protein. The deletion of Paatg1, which leads to the lack of the PaATG1 serine/threonine kinase active in early stages of autophagy induction, impairs ascospore germination and development and shortens life span. Under nitrogen-depleted conditions, life span of the wild type is increased almost 4-fold. In contrast, this effect is annihilated in the Paatg1 deletion strain, suggesting that the ability to induce autophagy is beneficial for this fungus. Collectively, our data identify autophagy as a longevity-assurance mechanism in P. anserina and as another surveillance pathway in the complex network of pathways affecting aging and development. These findings provide perspectives for the elucidation of the mechanisms involved in the regulation of individual pathways and their interactions.
The mitochondrial free radical theory of aging (MFRTA) states that reactive oxygen species (ROS) generated at the respiratory electron transport chain are active in causing age-related damage of biomolecules like lipids, nucleic acids and proteins. Accumulation of this kind of damage results in functional impairments, aging and death of biological systems. Here we report data of an analysis to monitor the age-related quantitative protein composition of the mitochondria of the fungal aging model Podospora anserina. The impact of senescence on mitochondrial protein composition was analyzed by LC-MS. In an untargeted proteomic approach, we identified 795 proteins in samples from juvenile and senescent wild-type cultures and obtained quantitative information for 226 of these proteins by spectral counting. Despite the broad coverage of the proteome, no substantial changes in known age-related pathways could be observed. For a more detailed analysis, a targeted proteome analysis was applied focusing on 15 proteins from respiratory, ROS-scavenging and quality control pathways. Analyzing six distinct age-stages from juvenile to senescent P. anserina cultures revealed low, but statistically significant changes for the mitochondrial respiratory complexes. A P. anserina PaSod3 over-expression mutant with a phenotype of mitochondrial ROS over-production was used for biological evaluation of changes observed during aging. LC-MS analysis of the mutant revealed severe changes to the mitochondrial proteome--substantially larger than observed during senescence. Interestingly the amount of ATP synthase subunit g, involved in cristae formation is significantly decreased in the mutant implicating ROS-induced impairments in ATP synthase dimer and cristae formation. The difference between protein-profiles of aging wild type and ROS stressed mutant suggests that oxidative stress within the mitochondria is not the dominating mechanism for the aging process in P. anserina. Collectively, while our data do not exclude an effect of ROS on specific proteins and in signaling and control of pathways which are governing aging of P. anserina, it contradicts increasing ROS as a cause of a gross general and non-selective accumulation of damaged proteins during senescence. Instead, ROS may be effective by controlling specific regulators of mitochondrial function.
Aging is one of the most fundamental, yet least understood biological processes that affect all forms of eukaryotic life. Mitochondria are intimately involved in aging, but the underlying molecular mechanisms are largely unknown. Electron cryotomography of whole mitochondria from the aging model organism Podospora anserina revealed profound age-dependent changes in membrane architecture. With increasing age, the typical cristae disappear and the inner membrane vesiculates. The ATP synthase dimers that form rows at the cristae tips dissociate into monomers in inner-membrane vesicles, and the membrane curvature at the ATP synthase inverts. Dissociation of the ATP synthase dimer may involve the peptidyl prolyl isomerase cyclophilin D. Finally, the outer membrane ruptures near large contact-site complexes, releasing apoptogens into the cytoplasm. Inner-membrane vesiculation and dissociation of ATP synthase dimers would impair the ability of mitochondria to supply the cell with sufficient ATP to maintain essential cellular functions.
The caseinolytic peptidase P (CLPP) is conserved from bacteria to humans. In the mitochondrial matrix, it multimerizes and forms a macromolecular proteasome-like cylinder together with the chaperone CLPX. In spite of a known relevance for the mitochondrial unfolded protein response, its substrates and tissue-specific roles are unclear in mammals. Recessive CLPP mutations were recently observed in the human Perrault variant of ovarian failure and sensorineural hearing loss. Here, a first characterization of CLPP null mice demonstrated complete female and male infertility and auditory deficits. Disrupted spermatogenesis already at the spermatid stage and ovarian follicular differentiation failure were evident. Reduced pre-/post-natal survival and marked ubiquitous growth retardation contrasted with only light impairment of movement and respiratory activities. Interestingly, the mice showed resistance to ulcerative dermatitis. Systematic expression studies detected up-regulation of other mitochondrial chaperones, accumulation of CLPX and mtDNA as well as inflammatory factors throughout tissues. T-lymphocytes in the spleen were activated. Thus, murine Clpp deletion represents a faithful Perrault model. The disease mechanism probably involves deficient clearance of mitochondrial components and inflammatory tissue destruction.
Many questions concerning the molecular processes during biological aging remain unanswered. Since mitochondria are central players in aging, we applied quantitative two-dimensional difference gel electrophoresis (2D-DIGE) coupled to protein identification by mass spectrometry to study the age-dependent changes in the mitochondrial proteome of the fungus Podospora anserina - a well-established aging model. 67 gel spots exhibited significant, but remarkably moderate intensity changes. While typically the observed changes in protein abundance occurred progressively with age, for several proteins a pronounced change was observed at late age, sometimes inverting the trend observed at younger age. The identified proteins were assigned to a wide range of metabolic pathways including several implicated previously in biological aging. An overall decrease for subunits of complexes I and V of oxidative phosphorylation was confirmed by Western blot analysis and blue-native electrophoresis. Changes in several groups of proteins suggested a general increase in protein biosynthesis possibly reflecting a compensatory mechanism for increased quality control-related protein degradation at later age. Age-related augmentation in abundance of proteins involved in biosynthesis, folding, and protein degradation pathways sustain these observations. Furthermore, a significant decrease of two enzymes involved in the degradation of ?-aminobutyrate (GABA) supported its previously suggested involvement in biological aging.
The two metacaspases MCA1 and MCA2 of the fungal aging model organism Podospora anserina (PaMCA1 and PaMCA2, respectively) have previously been demonstrated to be involved in the control of programmed cell death (PCD) and life span. In order to identify specific pathways and components which are controlled by the activity of these enzymes, we set out to characterize them further. Heterologous overexpression in Escherichia coli of the two metacaspase genes resulted in the production of proteins which aggregate and form inclusion bodies from which the active protein has been recovered via refolding in appropriate buffers. The renaturated proteins are characterized by an arginine-specific activity and are active in caspase-like self-maturation leading to the generation of characteristic small protein fragments. Both activities are dependent on the presence of calcium. Incubation of the two metacaspases with recombinant poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP), a known substrate of mammalian caspases, led to the identification of PARP as a substrate of the two P. anserina proteases. Using double mutants in which P. anserina Parp (PaParp) is overexpressed and PaMca1 is either overexpressed or deleted, we provide evidence for in vivo degradation of PaPARP by PaMCA1. These results support the idea that the substrate profiles of caspases and metacaspases are at least partially overlapping. Moreover, they link PCD and DNA maintenance in the complex network of molecular pathways involved in aging and life span control.
In the present work, we indicate that copper is involved in the senescence of human diploid fibroblasts and we describe mechanisms to explain it. Using different techniques, we show for the first time an accumulation of copper in cells during replicative senescence. This accumulation seems to be co-localized with lipofuscin. Second, we observed that an incubation of cells with copper sulfate induced oxidative stress, antioxidant response and premature senescence. Antioxidant molecules reduced the appearance of premature senescence. Third, we found that Nrf2 transcription factor was activated and regulated the expression of genes involved in antioxidant response while p38(MAPK) regulated the appearance of premature senescence.
A fundamental impact of mitochondria on biological aging has been suggested decades ago. One prominent theory explains aging as the result of the age-related accumulation of random molecular damage of biomolecules resulting from the reaction of reactive oxygen species, the majority of which are generated in mitochondria. Although this concept appeared to be very attractive and strongly influenced aging research, in recent years more and more data accumulated which seem to contradict this theory. However, since these data are derived from reductionist approaches and do not integrate the various components and pathways which are affected as a result of a primary experimental intervention, they are prone to misinterpretation and have to be taken with some caution. Here, after a general introduction of mitochondrial function, we discuss the relevance of various pathways which are involved in keeping mitochondria functional over time. Moreover, we provide examples which emphasize the importance of a critical interpretation of experimental data and the necessity for a holistic analysis of the aging process. The success of such a systems biology approach is strongly dependent on the development of methods for data mining and an efficient analysis and modeling of the huge data sets that are raised.
Mitochondrial maintenance crucially depends on the quality control of proteins by various chaperones, proteases and repair enzymes. While most of the involved components have been studied in some detail, little is known on the biological role of the CLPXP protease complex located in the mitochondrial matrix. Here we show that deletion of PaClpP, encoding the CLP protease proteolytic subunit CLPP, leads to an unexpected healthy phenotype and increased lifespan of the fungal ageing model organism Podospora anserina. This phenotype can be reverted by expression of human ClpP in the fungal deletion background, demonstrating functional conservation of human and fungal CLPP. Our results show that the biological role of eukaryotic CLP proteases can be studied in an experimentally accessible model organism.
Maintenance of functional mitochondria is essential in order to prevent degenerative processes leading to disease and aging. Mitochondrial dynamics plays a crucial role in ensuring mitochondrial quality but may also generate and spread molecular damage through a population of mitochondria. Computational simulations suggest that this dynamics is advantageous when mitochondria are not or only marginally damaged. In contrast, at a higher degree of damage, mitochondrial dynamics may be disadvantageous. Deceleration of fusion-fission cycles could be one way to adapt to this situation and to delay a further decline in mitochondrial quality. However, this adaptive response makes the mitochondrial network more vulnerable to additional molecular damage. The "mitochondrial infectious damage adaptation" (MIDA) model explains a number of inconsistent and counterintuitive data such as the "clonal expansion" of mutant mitochondrial DNA. We propose that mitochondrial dynamics is a double-edged sword and suggest ways to test this experimentally.
Podospora anserina is an extensively studied model organism to unravel the mechanism of organismal aging. This filamentous fungus is short-lived and accessible to experimentation. Aging and lifespan are controlled by genetic and environmental traits and, in this model, have a strong mitochondrial etiology. Here, we describe methods and protocols to manipulate and study the aging process in P. anserina at different levels including biochemistry, cell biology, genetics, and physiology.
Aging of biological systems is controlled by various processes which have a potential impact on gene expression. Here we report a genome-wide transcriptome analysis of the fungal aging model Podospora anserina. Total RNA of three individuals of defined age were pooled and analyzed by SuperSAGE (serial analysis of gene expression). A bioinformatics analysis identified different molecular pathways to be affected during aging. While the abundance of transcripts linked to ribosomes and to the proteasome quality control system were found to decrease during aging, those associated with autophagy increase, suggesting that autophagy may act as a compensatory quality control pathway. Transcript profiles associated with the energy metabolism including mitochondrial functions were identified to fluctuate during aging. Comparison of wild-type transcripts, which are continuously down-regulated during aging, with those down-regulated in the long-lived, copper-uptake mutant grisea, validated the relevance of age-related changes in cellular copper metabolism. Overall, we (i) present a unique age-related data set of a longitudinal study of the experimental aging model P. anserina which represents a reference resource for future investigations in a variety of organisms, (ii) suggest autophagy to be a key quality control pathway that becomes active once other pathways fail, and (iii) present testable predictions for subsequent experimental investigations.
Different molecular pathways involved in maintaining mitochondrial function are of fundamental importance to control cellular homeostasis. Mitochondrial i-AAA protease is part of such a surveillance system and PaIAP is the putative ortholog in the fungal aging model Podospora anserina. Here we investigated the role of PaIAP in aging and development. Deletion of the gene encoding PaIAP resulted in a specific phenotype. When incubated at 27°C, spore germination and fruiting body formation are not different from that of the corresponding wild-type strain. Unexpectedly, the lifespan of the deletion strain is strongly increased. In contrast, cultivation at an elevated temperature of 37°C leads to impairments in spore germination and fruiting body formation, and to a reduced lifespan. The higher PaIAP abundance in wild-type strains of the fungus grown at elevated temperature and the phenotype of the deletion strain unmasks a temperature-related role of the protein. The protease appears to be part of a molecular system that has evolved to allow survival under changing temperatures as they characteristically occur in nature.
Aging of biological systems is a fundamental process controlled by a complex network of molecular pathways. In the filamentous fungus Podospora anserina, a model in which organismal aging can conveniently be analysed, mitochondria play a central role. A wide range of relevant pathways were identified that contribute to the maintenance of a population of functional mitochondria. These pathways act in a hierarchical manner, but all the pathways are limited in capacity. At the end of the life cycle, when the various surveillance pathways are overwhelmed and damage has passed certain thresholds, programmed cell death brings the life of individual P. anserina to an end.
Mitochondrial morphology is controlled by the opposing processes of fusion and fission. Previously, in bakers yeast it was shown that reduced mitochondrial fission leads to a network-like morphology, decreased sensitivity for the induction of apoptosis and a remarkable extension of both replicative and chronological lifespan. However, the effects of reduced mitochondrial fusion on aging are so far unknown and complicated by the fact that deletion of genes encoding components of mitochondrial fusion are often lethal to higher organisms. This is also true for the mammalian OPA1 protein, which is a key regulator of mitochondrial inner membrane fusion. Bakers yeast contains an OPA1 ortholog, Mgm1p. Deletion of Mgm1 is possible in yeast due to the fact that mitochondrial function is not essential for growth on glucose-containing media. In this study, we report that absence of mitochondrial fusion in the ?mgm1 mutant leads to a striking reduction of both replicative and chronological lifespan. Concomitantly, sensitivity to apoptosis elicitation via the reactive oxygen species hydrogen peroxide is substantially increased. These results demonstrate that the unopposed mitochondrial fission as displayed by the ?mgm1 mutant strongly affects organismal aging. Moreover, our results bear important clues for translational research to intervene into age-related degenerative processes also in multicellular organisms including humans.
The release of reactive oxygen species (ROS) as side products of aerobic metabolism in the mitochondria is an unavoidable consequence. As the capacity of organisms to deal with this exposure declines with age, accumulation of molecular damage caused by ROS has been defined as one of the central events during the ageing process in biological systems as well as in numerous diseases such as Alzheimers and Parkinsons Dementia. In the filamentous fungus Podospora anserina, an ageing model with a clear defined mitochondrial etiology of ageing, in addition to the mitochondrial aconitase the ATP synthase alpha subunit was defined recently as a hot spot for oxidative modifications induced by ROS. In this report we show, that this reactivity is not randomly distributed over the ATP Synthase, but is channeled to a single tryptophan residue 503. This residue serves as an intra-molecular quencher for oxidative species and might also be involved in the metabolic perception of oxidative stress or regulation of enzyme activity. A putative metal binding site in the proximity of this tryptophan residue appears to be crucial for the molecular mechanism for the selective targeting of oxidative damage.
A differential mass spectrometry analysis of secreted proteins from juvenile and senescent Podospora anserina cultures revealed age-related differences in protein profiles. Among other proteins with decreased abundance in the secretome of senescent cultures a catalase, termed PaCATB, was identified. Genetic modulation of the abundance of PaCATB identified differential effects on the phenotype of the corresponding strains. Deletion of PaCatB resulted in decreased resistance, over-expression in increased resistance against hydrogen peroxide. While the lifespan of the genetically modified strains was found to be unaffected under standard growth conditions, increased exogenous hydrogen peroxide stress in the growth medium markedly reduced the lifespan of the PaCatB deletion strain but extended the lifespan of PaCatB over-expressors. Overall our data identify a component of the secretome of P. anserina as a new effective factor to cope with environmental stress, stress that under natural conditions is constantly applied on organisms and influences aging processes.
We used electron cryotomography to study the molecular arrangement of large respiratory chain complexes in mitochondria from bovine heart, potato, and three types of fungi. Long rows of ATP synthase dimers were observed in intact mitochondria and cristae membrane fragments of all species that were examined. The dimer rows were found exclusively on tightly curved cristae edges. The distance between dimers along the rows varied, but within the dimer the distance between F(1) heads was constant. The angle between monomers in the dimer was 70° or above. Complex I appeared as L-shaped densities in tomograms of reconstituted proteoliposomes. Similar densities were observed in flat membrane regions of mitochondrial membranes from all species except Saccharomyces cerevisiae and identified as complex I by quantum-dot labeling. The arrangement of respiratory chain proton pumps on flat cristae membranes and ATP synthase dimer rows along cristae edges was conserved in all species investigated. We propose that the supramolecular organization of respiratory chain complexes as proton sources and ATP synthase rows as proton sinks in the mitochondrial cristae ensures optimal conditions for efficient ATP synthesis.
The retrograde response constitutes an important signalling pathway from mitochondria to the nucleus which induces several genes to allow compensation of mitochondrial impairments. In the filamentous ascomycete Podospora anserina, an example for such a response is the induction of a nuclear-encoded and iron-dependent alternative oxidase (AOX) occurring when cytochrome-c oxidase (COX) dependent respiration is affected. Several long-lived mutants are known which predominantly or exclusively respire via AOX. Here we show that two AOX-utilising mutants, grisea and PaCox17::ble, are able to compensate partially for lowered OXPHOS efficiency resulting from AOX-dependent respiration by increasing mitochondrial content. At the physiological level this is demonstrated by an elevated oxygen consumption and increased heat production. However, in the two mutants, ATP levels do not reach WT levels. Interestingly, mutant PaCox17::ble is characterized by a highly increased release of the reactive oxygen species (ROS) hydrogen peroxide. Both grisea and PaCox17::ble contain elevated levels of mitochondrial proteins involved in quality control, i. e. LON protease and the molecular chaperone HSP60. Taken together, our work demonstrates that AOX-dependent respiration in two mutants of the ageing model P. anserina is linked to a novel mechanism involved in the retrograde response pathway, mitochondrial biogenesis, which might also play an important role for cellular maintenance in other organisms.
Preserving the integrity of proteins, biomolecules prone to molecular damage, is a fundamental function of all biological systems. Impairments in protein quality control (PQC) may lead to degenerative processes, such as aging and various disorders and diseases. Fortunately, cells contain a hierarchical system of pathways coping protein damage. Specific molecular pathways detect misfolded proteins and act either to unfold or degrade them. Degradation of proteins generates peptides and amino acids that can be used for remodelling of impaired pathways and cellular functions. At increased levels of cellular damage whole organelles can be removed via autophagy, a process that depends on the activity oflysosomes. In addition, cells may undergo apoptosis, a form of programmed cell death, which in single-cellular and lower multicellular organisms can lead to death of the individual. Molecular damage of cellular compartments is mainly caused by reactive oxygen species (ROS). ROS is generated via different cellular pathways and frequently arises in the mitochondrial electron transport chain as a by-product of oxygenic energy transduction. Consequently, mitochondrial proteins are under high risk to become damaged. Perhaps for this reason mitochondria contain a very efficient PQC system that keeps mitochondrial proteins functional as long as damage does not reach a certain threshold and the components of this system themselves are not excessively damaged. The mitochondrial PQC system consists of chaperones that counteract protein aggregation through binding and refolding misfolded polypeptides and of membrane-bound and soluble ATP-dependent proteases that are involved in degradation of damaged proteins. During aging and in neurodegenerative diseases components of this PQC system, including Lon protease present in the mitochondrial matrix, become functionally impaired. In this chapter we summarise the current knowledge of cellular quality control systems with special emphasis on the role of the mitochondrial PQC system and its impact on biological aging and disease.
Cyclophilin D (CYPD) is a mitochondrial peptidyl prolyl-cis,trans-isomerase involved in opening of the mitochondrial permeability transition pore (mPTP). CYPD abundance increases during aging in mammalian tissues and in the aging model organism Podospora anserina. Here, we show that treatment of the P. anserina wild-type with low concentrations of the cyclophilin inhibitor cyclosporin A (CSA) extends lifespan. Transgenic strains overexpressing PaCypD are characterized by reduced stress tolerance, suffer from pronounced mitochondrial dysfunction and are characterized by accelerated aging and induction of cell death. Treatment with CSA leads to correction of mitochondrial function and lifespan to that of the wild-type. In contrast, PaCypD deletion strains are not affected by CSA within the investigated concentration range and show increased resistance against inducers of oxidative stress and cell death. Our data provide a mechanistic link between programmed cell death (PCD) and organismal aging and bear implications for the potential use of CSA to intervene into biologic aging.
Poly(ADP-ribose) polymerases (PARPs) are a diverse group of proteins present in all multicellular eukaryotes. They catalyze the NAD(+)-dependent modification of proteins with poly(ADP-ribose). Poly(ADP-ribosyl)ation plays a key role in a plethora of processes including DNA repair, tumor progression and aging. Here we report that PaPARP, the single protein with a PARP catalytic domain, in the fungal aging model Podospora anserina, indeed displays a NAD(+)-dependent poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase activity. While unable to select a PaParp deletion strain, we succeeded in the generation of PaParp overexpressors. Biochemically these strains are characterized by reduced mitochondrial membrane potential and a lowered ATP content. They show an increased sensitivity against different stressors including the DNA damaging agent phleomycin, the reactive oxygen generator paraquat, and the apoptosis inducer farnesol. PaParp overexpressors are impaired in growth, in pigmentation and fertility, and have a shortened lifespan. Our results demonstrate the relevance of poly(ADP-ribose) metabolism for aging and development in P. anserina. With a single PARP this metabolism is less complex than in higher eukaryotes and thus P. anserina appears to be a promising system to connect basic PARP functions with the well established network of pathways relevant for organismal aging.
Work from more than 50 years of research has unraveled a number of molecular pathways that are involved in controlling aging of the fungal model system Podospora anserina. Early research revealed that wild-type strain aging is linked to gross reorganization of the mitochondrial DNA. Later it was shown that aging of P. anserina does also take place, although at a slower pace, when the wild-type specific mitochondrial DNA rearrangements do not occur. Now it is clear that a network of different pathways is involved in the control of aging. Branches of these pathways appear to be connected and constitute a hierarchical system of responses. Although cross talk between the individual pathways seems to be fundamental in the coordination of the overall system, the precise underlying interactions remain to be unraveled. Such a systematic approach aims at a holistic understanding of the process of biological aging, the ultimate goal of modern systems biology.
The eukaryotic glyoxalase system consists of two enzymatic components, glyoxalase I (lactoylglutathione lyase) and glyoxalase II (hydroxyacylglutathione hydrolase). These enzymes are dedicated to the removal of toxic ?-oxoaldehydes like methylglyoxal (MG). MG is formed as a by-product of glycolysis and MG toxicity results from its damaging capability leading to modifications of proteins, lipids and nucleic acids. An efficient removal of MG appears to be essential to ensure cellular functionality and viability. Here we study the effects of the genetic modulation of genes encoding the components of the glyoxalase system in the filamentous ascomycete and aging modelPodospora anserina. Overexpression of PaGlo1 leads to a lifespan reduction on glucose rich medium, probably due to depletion of reduced glutathione. Deletion of PaGlo1 leads to hypersensitivity against MG added to the growth medium. A beneficial effect on lifespan is observed when both PaGlo1 and PaGlo2 are overexpressed and the corresponding strains are grown on media containing increased glucose concentrations. Notably, the double mutant has a healthy phenotype without physiological impairments. Moreover, PaGlo1/PaGlo2_OEx strains are not long-lived on media containing standard glucose concentrations suggesting a tight correlation between the efficiency and capacity to remove MG within the cell, the level of available glucose and lifespan. Overall, our results identify the up-regulation of both components of the glyoxalase system as an effective intervention to increase lifespan in P. anserina.
Filamentous fungi are of great importance in ecology, agriculture, medicine, and biotechnology. Thus, it is not surprising that genomes for more than 100 filamentous fungi have been sequenced, most of them by Sanger sequencing. While next-generation sequencing techniques have revolutionized genome resequencing, e.g. for strain comparisons, genetic mapping, or transcriptome and ChIP analyses, de novo assembly of eukaryotic genomes still presents significant hurdles, because of their large size and stretches of repetitive sequences. Filamentous fungi contain few repetitive regions in their 30-90 Mb genomes and thus are suitable candidates to test de novo genome assembly from short sequence reads. Here, we present a high-quality draft sequence of the Sordaria macrospora genome that was obtained by a combination of Illumina/Solexa and Roche/454 sequencing. Paired-end Solexa sequencing of genomic DNA to 85-fold coverage and an additional 10-fold coverage by single-end 454 sequencing resulted in approximately 4 Gb of DNA sequence. Reads were assembled to a 40 Mb draft version (N50 of 117 kb) with the Velvet assembler. Comparative analysis with Neurospora genomes increased the N50 to 498 kb. The S. macrospora genome contains even fewer repeat regions than its closest sequenced relative, Neurospora crassa. Comparison with genomes of other fungi showed that S. macrospora, a model organism for morphogenesis and meiosis, harbors duplications of several genes involved in self/nonself-recognition. Furthermore, S. macrospora contains more polyketide biosynthesis genes than N. crassa. Phylogenetic analyses suggest that some of these genes may have been acquired by horizontal gene transfer from a distantly related ascomycete group. Our study shows that, for typical filamentous fungi, de novo assembly of genomes from short sequence reads alone is feasible, that a mixture of Solexa and 454 sequencing substantially improves the assembly, and that the resulting data can be used for comparative studies to address basic questions of fungal biology.
The Editorial Board of Aging reviews research papers published in 2009, which they believe have or will have significant impact on aging research. Among many others, the topics include genes that accelerate aging or in contrast promote longevity in model organisms, DNA damage responses and telomeres, molecular mechanisms of life span extension by calorie restriction and pharmacological interventions into aging. The emerging message in 2009 is that aging is not random but determined by a genetically-regulated longevity network and can be decelerated both genetically and pharmacologically.
Wild-type strains of the ascomycete Podospora anserina are characterized by a limited lifespan. Mitochondria play a central role in this ageing process raising the question of whether apoptosis-like processes, which are also connected to mitochondrial function, are involved in the control of the final stage in the fungal life cycle. While a role of two metacaspases in apoptosis and lifespan control was recently demonstrated in P. anserina, virtually nothing is known about the function of the protein family of apoptosis-inducing factors (AIFs). Here we report data about proteins belonging to this family. We demonstrate that the cytosolic members PaAIF1 and PaAMID1 do not affect lifespan. In contrast, loss of PaAIF2 and PaAMID2, which both were localized to mitochondria, are characterized by a significantly increased ROS tolerance and a prolonged lifespan. In addition, deletion of PaAmid2 severely affects sporogenesis. These data identify components of a caspase-independent molecular pathway to be involved in developmental processes and in the induction of programmed cell death in the senescent stage of P. anserina.
The fungal aging model Podospora anserina contains three superoxide dismutases (SODs) in different cellular compartments. While PaSOD1 represents the Cu/Zn isoform located in the cytoplasm and in the mitochondrial inter-membrane space, PaSOD2 localizes to the perinuclear ER. PaSOD3, a protein with a manganese binding domain and a mitochondrial targeting sequence (MTS) is the mitochondrial SOD. Over-expression of PaSod3 leads to lifespan reduction and increased sensitivity against paraquat and hydrogen peroxide. The negative effects of PaSod3 over-expression correlate with a strong reduction in the abundance of mitochondrial peroxiredoxin, PaPRX1, and the matrix protease PaCLPP disclosing impairments of mitochondrial quality control and ROS scavenging pathways in PaSod3 over-expressors. Deletion of PaSod3 leads to increased paraquat sensitivity while hydrogen peroxide sensitivity and lifespan are not significantly changed when compared to the wild-type strain. These latter characteristics are unexpected and challenge the mitochondrial free radical theory of aging.
Biological systems, from simple microorganisms to humans, are characterized by time-dependent degenerative processes which lead to reduced fitness, disabilities, severe diseases, and, finally, death. These processes are under genetic control but also influenced by environmental conditions and by stochastic processes. Studying the mechanistic basis of degenerative processes in the filamentous ascomycete Podospora anserina and in other systems demonstrated that mitochondria play a key role in the expression of degenerative phenotypes and unraveled a number of underlying molecular pathways. Reactive oxygen species (ROS) which are mainly, but not exclusively, formed at the mitochondrial respiratory chain are crucial players in this network. While being essential for signaling processes and development, ROS are, at the same time, a potential danger because they lead to molecular damage and degeneration. Fortunately, a number of interacting pathways including ROS scavenging, DNA and protein repair, protein degradation, and mitochondrial fission and fusion are involved in keeping cellular damage low. If these pathways are overwhelmed by extensive damage, programmed cell death is induced. The current knowledge of this hierarchical system of mitochondrial quality control, although still incomplete, appears now to be ready for the development of strategies effective in interventions into those pathways leading to degeneration and loss of performance also in microorganisms used in biotechnology. Very promising interdisciplinary interactions and collaborations involving academic and industrial research teams can be envisioned to arise which bear a great potential, in particular, when system biology approaches are used to understand relevant networks of pathways in a holistic way.
The free radical theory of ageing states that ROS play a key role in age-related decrease in mitochondrial function via the damage of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), proteins and lipids. In the sexually reproducing ascomycete Podospora anserina ageing is, as in other eukaryotes, associated with mtDNA instability and mitochondrial dysfunction. Part of the mtDNA instabilities may arise due to accumulation of ROS induced mtDNA lesions, which, as previously suggested for mammals, may be caused by an age-related decrease in base excision repair (BER). Alignments of known BER protein sequences with the P. anserina genome revealed high homology. We report for the first time the presence of BER activities in P. anserina mitochondrial extracts. DNA glycosylase activities decrease with age, suggesting that the increased mtDNA instability with age may be caused by decreased ability to repair mtDNA damage and hence contribute to ageing and lifespan control in this ageing model. Additionally, we find low DNA glycosylase activities in the long-lived mutants grisea and DeltaPaCox17::ble, which are characterized by low mitochondrial ROS generation. Overall, our data identify a potential role of mtDNA repair in controlling ageing and life span in P. anserina, a mechanism possibly regulated in response to ROS levels.
Carotenoids have been identified in the fungus Podospora anserina and a parallel pathway to neurosporene and beta-carotene was established. Three genes for the beta-carotene branch have been cloned and their function elucidated. They correspond to the al-1, al-2 and al-3 genes from Neurospora crassa. They were individually and in combinations over-expressed in P. anserina in order to modify the carotenoid composition qualitatively and quantitatively. In the resulting transformants, carotenoid synthesis was up to eightfold increased and several intermediates of the pathway together with special cyclic carotenoids, beta-zeacarotene and 7,8-dihydro-beta-carotene, accumulated. All transformants with an over-expressed al-2 gene (encoding a phytoene synthase and a lycopene cyclase) displayed up to 31% prolonged life span.
In previous investigations an impact of cellular copper homeostasis on ageing of the ascomycete Podospora anserina has been demonstrated. Here we provide new data indicating that mitochondria play a major role in this process. Determination of copper in the cytosolic fraction using total reflection X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy analysis and eGfp reporter gene studies indicate an age-related increase of cytosolic copper levels. We show that components of the mitochondrial matrix (i.e. eGFP targeted to mitochondria) become released from the organelle during ageing. Decreasing the accessibility of mitochondrial copper in P. anserina via targeting a copper metallothionein to the mitochondrial matrix was found to result in a switch from a copper-dependent cytochrome-c oxidase to a copper-independent alternative oxidase type of respiration and results in lifespan extension. In addition, we demonstrate that increased copper concentrations in the culture medium lead to the appearance of senescence biomarkers in human diploid fibroblasts (HDFs). Significantly, expression of copper-regulated genes is induced during in vitro ageing in medium devoid of excess copper suggesting that cytosolic copper levels also increase during senescence of HDFs. These data suggest that the identified molecular pathway of age-dependent copper dynamics may not be restricted to P. anserina but may be conserved from lower eukaryotes to humans.
PaMTH1 is an O-methyltransferase catalysing the methylation of vicinal hydroxyl groups of polyphenols. The protein accumulates during ageing of Podospora anserina in both the cytosol and in the mitochondrial matrix. The construction and characterisation of a PaMth1 deletion strain provided additional evidence about the function of the protein in the protection against metal induced oxidative stress. Deletion of PaMth1 was found to lead to a decreased resistance against exogenous oxidative stress and to a shortened lifespan suggesting a role of PaMTH1 as a longevity assurance factor in a new molecular pathway involved in lifespan control.
The regulation of cellular copper homeostasis is crucial in biology. Impairments lead to severe dysfunctions and are known to affect aging and development. Previously, a loss-of-function mutation in the gene encoding the copper-sensing and copper-regulated transcription factor GRISEA of the filamentous fungus Podospora anserina was reported to lead to cellular copper depletion and a pleiotropic phenotype with hypopigmentation of the mycelium and the ascospores, affected fertility and increased lifespan by approximately 60% when compared to the wild type. This phenotype is linked to a switch from a copper-dependent standard to an alternative respiration leading to both a reduced generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). We performed a genome-wide comparative transcriptome analysis of a wild-type strain and the copper-depleted grisea mutant. We unambiguously assigned 9,700 sequences of the transcriptome in both strains to the more than 10,600 predicted and annotated open reading frames of the P. anserina genome indicating 90% coverage of the transcriptome. 4,752 of the transcripts differed significantly in abundance with 1,156 transcripts differing at least 3-fold. Selected genes were investigated by qRT-PCR analyses. Apart from this general characterization we analyzed the data with special emphasis on molecular pathways related to the grisea mutation taking advantage of the available complete genomic sequence of P. anserina. This analysis verified but also corrected conclusions from earlier data obtained by single gene analysis, identified new candidates of factors as part of the cellular copper homeostasis system including target genes of transcription factor GRISEA, and provides a rich reference source of quantitative data for further in detail investigations. Overall, the present study demonstrates the importance of systems biology approaches also in cases were mutations in single genes are analyzed to explain the underlying mechanisms controlling complex biological processes like aging and development.
Mitochondrial dynamics and mitophagy play a key role in ensuring mitochondrial quality control. Impairment thereof was proposed to be causative to neurodegenerative diseases, diabetes, and cancer. Accumulation of mitochondrial dysfunction was further linked to aging. Here we applied a probabilistic modeling approach integrating our current knowledge on mitochondrial biology allowing us to simulate mitochondrial function and quality control during aging in silico. We demonstrate that cycles of fusion and fission and mitophagy indeed are essential for ensuring a high average quality of mitochondria, even under conditions in which random molecular damage is present. Prompted by earlier observations that mitochondrial fission itself can cause a partial drop in mitochondrial membrane potential, we tested the consequences of mitochondrial dynamics being harmful on its own. Next to directly impairing mitochondrial function, pre-existing molecular damage may be propagated and enhanced across the mitochondrial population by content mixing. In this situation, such an infection-like phenomenon impairs mitochondrial quality control progressively. However, when imposing an age-dependent deceleration of cycles of fusion and fission, we observe a delay in the loss of average quality of mitochondria. This provides a rational why fusion and fission rates are reduced during aging and why loss of a mitochondrial fission factor can extend life span in fungi. We propose the mitochondrial infectious damage adaptation (MIDA) model according to which a deceleration of fusion-fission cycles reflects a systemic adaptation increasing life span.
The analyses of previously generated Podospora anserina strains in which the mitochondrial superoxide dismutase, PaSOD3, is increased in abundance, revealed unexpected results, which, at first glance, are contradictory to the free radical theory of aging (FRTA). To re-analyze these results, we performed additional experiments and developed a mathematical model consisting of a set of differential equations describing the time course of various ROS (reactive oxygen species), components of the cellular antioxidant system (PaSOD3 and mitochondrial peroxiredoxin, PaPRX1), and PaCLPP, a mitochondrial matrix protease involved in protein quality control. Incorporating these components we could identify a positive feed-back loop and demonstrate that the role of superoxide as the primary ROS responsible for age-related molecular damage is more complicated than originally stated by the FRTA. Our study is a first step towards the integration of the various pathways known to be involved in the control of biological aging.
Mitochondria are organelles of eukaryotic cells with various functions. Best known is their role in energy transduction leading to the formation of ATP. As byproducts of this process, reactive oxygen species (ROS) are formed that can damage different types of molecules leading to mitochondrial dysfunction. Different quality control (QC) mechanisms keep mitochondria functional. Although several components involved in mitochondrial QC have been characterized in some detail, others remain to be integrated into what is currently emerging as a hierarchical network of interacting pathways. The elucidation of this network holds the key to the understanding of complex biological processes such as aging and the development of age-related diseases.
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