N-formylation of initiator methionyl-tRNA (Met-tRNA(Met)) by methionyl-tRNA formyltransferase (MTF) is important for translation initiation in bacteria, mitochondria and chloroplasts. Unlike all other translation systems, the metazoan mitochondrial system is unique in using a single methionine tRNA (tRNA(Met)) for both initiation and elongation. A portion of Met-tRNA(Met) is formylated for initiation while the remainder is used for elongation. Recently, we showed that compound heterozygous mutations within the nuclear gene encoding human mitochondrial MTF (mt-MTF) significantly reduced mitochondrial translation efficiency leading to combined OXPHOS deficiency and Leigh syndrome in two unrelated patients. Patient P1 has a stop codon mutation in one of the MTF genes and a S209L mutation in the other MTF gene. P2 has a S125L mutation in one of the MTF genes and the same S209L mutation as P1 in the other MTF gene. Here, we have investigated the effect of mutations at S125 and S209 on activities of human mt-MTF and of the corresponding mutations, A89 or A172, respectively, on activities of E. coli MTF. The S125L mutant has 653 fold lower activity, whereas the S209L mutant has 36 fold lower activity. Thus, both patients depend upon residual activity of the S209L mutant to support low levels of mitochondrial protein synthesis. We discuss the implications of these and other results on whether the effect of the S209L mutation on mitochondrial translational efficiency is due to reduced activity of the mutant mt-MTF and/or reduced levels of the mutant mt-MTF.
Mitochondrial myopathies belong to a larger group of systemic diseases caused by morphological or biochemical abnormalities of mitochondria. Mitochondrial disorders can be caused by mutations in either the mitochondrial or nuclear genome. Only 5 % of all mitochondrial disorders are autosomal dominant. We analyzed DNA from members of the previously reported Puerto Rican kindred with an autosomal dominant mitochondrial myopathy (Heimann-Patterson et al. 1997). Linkage analysis suggested a putative locus on the pericentric region of the long arm of chromosome 22 (22q11). Using the tools of integrative genomics, we established chromosome 22 open reading frame 16 (C22orf16) (later designated as CHCHD10) as the only high-scoring mitochondrial candidate gene in our minimal candidate region. Sequence analysis revealed a double-missense mutation (R15S and G58R) in cis in CHCHD10 which encodes a coiled coil-helix-coiled coil-helix protein of unknown function. These two mutations completely co-segregated with the disease phenotype and were absent in 1,481 Caucasian and 80 Hispanic (including 32 Puerto Rican) controls. Expression profiling showed that CHCHD10 is enriched in skeletal muscle. Mitochondrial localization of the CHCHD10 protein was confirmed using immunofluorescence in cells expressing either wild-type or mutant CHCHD10. We found that the expression of the G58R, but not the R15S, mutation induced mitochondrial fragmentation. Our findings identify a novel gene causing mitochondrial myopathy, thereby expanding the spectrum of mitochondrial myopathies caused by nuclear genes. Our findings also suggest a role for CHCHD10 in the morphologic remodeling of the mitochondria.
The mitochondrial calcium uniporter is a highly selective calcium channel distributed broadly across eukaryotes but absent in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. The molecular components of the human uniporter holocomplex (uniplex) have been identified recently. The uniplex consists of three membrane-spanning subunits--mitochondrial calcium uniporter (MCU), its paralog MCUb, and essential MCU regulator (EMRE)--and two soluble regulatory components--MICU1 and its paralog MICU2. The minimal components sufficient for in vivo uniporter activity are unknown. Here we consider Dictyostelium discoideum (Dd), a member of the Amoebazoa outgroup of Metazoa and Fungi, and show that it has a highly simplified uniporter machinery. We show that D. discoideum mitochondria exhibit membrane potential-dependent calcium uptake compatible with uniporter activity, and also that expression of DdMCU complements the mitochondrial calcium uptake defect in human cells lacking MCU or EMRE. Moreover, expression of DdMCU in yeast alone is sufficient to reconstitute mitochondrial calcium uniporter activity. Having established yeast as an in vivo reconstitution system, we then reconstituted the human uniporter. We show that coexpression of MCU and EMRE is sufficient for uniporter activity, whereas expression of MCU alone is insufficient. Our work establishes yeast as a powerful in vivo reconstitution system for the uniporter. Using this system, we confirm that MCU is the pore-forming subunit, define the minimal genetic elements sufficient for metazoan and nonmetazoan uniporter activity, and provide valuable insight into the evolution of the uniporter machinery.
Obtaining complete protein inventories for subcellular regions is a challenge that often limits our understanding of cellular function, especially for regions that are impossible to purify and are therefore inaccessible to traditional proteomic analysis. We recently developed a method to map proteomes in living cells with an engineered peroxidase (APEX) that bypasses the need for organellar purification when applied to membrane-bound compartments; however, it was insufficiently specific when applied to unbounded regions that allow APEX-generated radicals to escape. Here, we combine APEX technology with a SILAC-based ratiometric tagging strategy to substantially reduce unwanted background and achieve nanometer spatial resolution. This is applied to map the proteome of the mitochondrial intermembrane space (IMS), which can freely exchange small molecules with the cytosol. Our IMS proteome of 127 proteins has >94% specificity and includes nine newly discovered mitochondrial proteins. This approach will enable scientists to map proteomes of cellular regions that were previously inaccessible.
D-bifunctional protein deficiency, caused by recessive mutations in HSD17B4, is a severe, infantile-onset disorder of peroxisomal fatty acid oxidation. Few affected patients survive past two years of age. Compound heterozygous mutations in HSD17B4 have also been reported in two sisters diagnosed with Perrault syndrome (MIM # 233400), who presented in adolescence with ovarian dysgenesis, hearing loss, and ataxia.
Both strands of human mtDNA are transcribed in continuous, multigenic units that are cleaved into the mature rRNAs, tRNAs, and mRNAs required for respiratory chain biogenesis. We sought to systematically identify nuclear-encoded proteins that contribute to processing of mtRNAs within the organelle. First, we devised and validated a multiplex MitoString assay that quantitates 27 mature and precursor mtDNA transcripts. Second, we applied MitoString profiling to evaluate the impact of silencing each of 107 mitochondrial-localized, predicted RNA-binding proteins. With the resulting data set, we rediscovered the roles of recently identified RNA-processing enzymes, detected unanticipated roles of known disease genes in RNA processing, and identified new regulatory factors. We demonstrate that one such factor, FASTKD4, modulates the half-lives of a subset of mt-mRNAs and associates with mtRNAs in vivo. MitoString profiling may be useful for diagnosing and deciphering the pathogenesis of mtDNA disorders.
Lipids are a diverse collection of macromolecules essential for normal physiology, but the tissue distribution and function for many individual lipid species remain unclear. Here, we report a mass spectrometry survey of lipid abundance across 18 mouse tissues, detecting ~1,000 mass spectrometry features, of which we identify 179 lipids from the glycerolipids, glycerophospholipids, lysophospholipids, acylcarnitines, sphingolipids, and cholesteryl ester classes. Our data reveal tissue-specific organization of lipids and can be used to generate testable hypotheses. For example, our data indicate that circulating triglycerides positively and negatively associated with future diabetes in humans are enriched in mouse adipose tissue and liver, respectively, raising hypotheses regarding the tissue origins of these diabetes-associated lipids. We also integrate our tissue lipid data with gene expression profiles to predict a number of substrates of lipid-metabolizing enzymes, highlighting choline phosphotransferases and sterol O-acyltransferases. Finally, we identify several tissue-specific lipids not present in plasma under normal conditions that may be of interest as biomarkers of tissue injury, and we show that two of these lipids are released into blood following ischemic brain injury in mice. This resource complements existing compendia of tissue gene expression and may be useful for integrative physiology and lipid biology.
The availability of diverse genomes makes it possible to predict gene function based on shared evolutionary history. This approach can be challenging, however, for pathways whose components do not exhibit a shared history but rather consist of distinct "evolutionary modules." We introduce a computational algorithm, clustering by inferred models of evolution (CLIME), which inputs a eukaryotic species tree, homology matrix, and pathway (gene set) of interest. CLIME partitions the gene set into disjoint evolutionary modules, simultaneously learning the number of modules and a tree-based evolutionary history that defines each module. CLIME then expands each module by scanning the genome for new components that likely arose under the inferred evolutionary model. Application of CLIME to ?1,000 annotated human pathways and to the proteomes of yeast, red algae, and malaria reveals unanticipated evolutionary modularity and coevolving components. CLIME is freely available and should become increasingly powerful with the growing wealth of eukaryotic genomes.
The mitochondrial uniporter is a selective Ca(2+) channel regulated by MICU1, an EF hand-containing protein in the organelle's intermembrane space. MICU1 physically associates with and is co-expressed with a paralog, MICU2. To clarify the function of MICU1 and its relationship to MICU2, we used gene knockout (KO) technology. We report that HEK-293T cells lacking MICU1 or MICU2 lose a normal threshold for Ca(2+) intake, extending the known gating function of MICU1 to MICU2. Expression of MICU1 or MICU2 mutants lacking functional Ca(2+)-binding sites leads to a striking loss of Ca(2+) uptake, suggesting that MICU1/2 disinhibit the channel in response to a threshold rise in [Ca(2+)]. MICU2's activity and physical association with the pore require the presence of MICU1, though the converse is not true. We conclude that MICU1 and MICU2 are nonredundant and together set the [Ca(2+)] threshold for uniporter activity.
Metabolic remodeling is now widely regarded as a hallmark of cancer, but it is not clear whether individual metabolic strategies are frequently exploited by many tumours. Here we compare messenger RNA profiles of 1,454 metabolic enzymes across 1,981 tumours spanning 19 cancer types to identify enzymes that are consistently differentially expressed. Our meta-analysis recovers established targets of some of the most widely used chemotherapeutics, including dihydrofolate reductase, thymidylate synthase and ribonucleotide reductase, while also spotlighting new enzymes, such as the mitochondrial proline biosynthetic enzyme PYCR1. The highest scoring pathway is mitochondrial one-carbon metabolism and is centred on MTHFD2. MTHFD2 RNA and protein are markedly elevated in many cancers and correlated with poor survival in breast cancer. MTHFD2 is expressed in the developing embryo, but is absent in most healthy adult tissues, even those that are proliferating. Our study highlights the importance of mitochondrial compartmentalization of one-carbon metabolism in cancer and raises important therapeutic hypotheses.
CLYBL is a human mitochondrial enzyme of unknown function that is found in multiple eukaryotic taxa and conserved to bacteria. The protein is expressed in the mitochondria of all mammalian organs, with highest expression in brown fat and kidney. Approximately 5% of all humans harbor a premature stop polymorphism in CLYBL that has been associated with reduced levels of circulating vitamin B12. Using comparative genomics, we now show that CLYBL is strongly co-expressed with and co-evolved specifically with other components of the mitochondrial B12 pathway. We confirm that the premature stop polymorphism in CLYBL leads to a loss of protein expression. To elucidate the molecular function of CLYBL, we used comparative operon analysis, structural modeling, and enzyme kinetics. We report that CLYBL encodes a malate/?-methylmalate synthase, converting glyoxylate and acetyl-CoA to malate, or glyoxylate and propionyl-CoA to ?-methylmalate. Malate synthases are best known for their established role in the glyoxylate shunt of plants and lower organisms and are traditionally described as not occurring in humans. The broader role of a malate/?-methylmalate synthase in human physiology and its mechanistic link to vitamin B12 metabolism remain unknown.
The mitochondrial uniporter is a highly selective calcium channel in the organelles inner membrane. Its molecular components include the EF-hand-containing calcium-binding proteins mitochondrial calcium uptake 1 (MICU1) and MICU2 and the pore-forming subunit mitochondrial calcium uniporter (MCU). We sought to achieve a full molecular characterization of the uniporter holocomplex (uniplex). Quantitative mass spectrometry of affinity-purified uniplex recovered MICU1 and MICU2, MCU and its paralog MCUb, and essential MCU regulator (EMRE), a previously uncharacterized protein. EMRE is a 10-kilodalton, metazoan-specific protein with a single transmembrane domain. In its absence, uniporter channel activity was lost despite intact MCU expression and oligomerization. EMRE was required for the interaction of MCU with MICU1 and MICU2. Hence, EMRE is essential for in vivo uniporter current and additionally bridges the calcium-sensing role of MICU1 and MICU2 with the calcium-conducting role of MCU.
We recently identified meclizine, an over-the-counter drug, as an inhibitor of mitochondrial respiration. Curiously, meclizine blunted respiration in intact cells but not in isolated mitochondria, suggesting an unorthodox mechanism. Using a metabolic profiling approach, we now show that treatment with meclizine leads to a sharp elevation of cellular phosphoethanolamine, an intermediate in the ethanolamine branch of the Kennedy pathway of phosphatidylethanolamine biosynthesis. Metabolic labeling and in vitro enzyme assays confirmed direct inhibition of the cytosolic enzyme CTP:phosphoethanolamine cytidylyltransferase (PCYT2). Inhibition of PCYT2 by meclizine led to rapid accumulation of its substrate, phosphoethanolamine, which is itself an inhibitor of mitochondrial respiration. Our work identifies the first pharmacologic inhibitor of the Kennedy pathway, demonstrates that its biosynthetic intermediate is an endogenous inhibitor of respiration, and provides key mechanistic insights that may facilitate repurposing meclizine for disorders of energy metabolism.
We used exome sequencing to identify mutations in sideroflexin 4 (SFXN4) in two children with mitochondrial disease (the more severe case also presented with macrocytic anemia). SFXN4 is an uncharacterized mitochondrial protein that localizes to the mitochondrial inner membrane. sfxn4 knockdown in zebrafish recapitulated the mitochondrial respiratory defect observed in both individuals and the macrocytic anemia with megaloblastic features of the more severe case. In vitro and in vivo complementation studies with fibroblasts from the affected individuals and zebrafish demonstrated the requirement of SFXN4 for mitochondrial respiratory homeostasis and erythropoiesis. Our findings establish mutations in SFXN4 as a cause of mitochondriopathy and macrocytic anemia.
Mendelian forms of complex I deficiency are usually associated with fatal infantile encephalomyopathy. Application of "MitoExome" sequencing (deep sequencing of the entire mitochondrial genome and the coding exons of >1000 nuclear genes encoding the mitochondrial proteome) allowed us to reveal an unusual clinical variant of complex I deficiency due to a novel homozygous mutation in ACAD9. The patient had an infantile-onset but slowly progressive encephalomyopathy and responded favorably to riboflavin therapy.
Mitochondrial dysfunction is a common cause of inherited multisystem disease that often involves the nervous system. Despite major advances in our understanding of the pathophysiology of mitochondrial diseases, clinical management of these conditions remains largely supportive. Using a systematic approach, we identified 1,039 publications on treatments for mitochondrial diseases, only 35 of which included observations on more than five patients. Reports of a positive outcome on the basis of a biomarker of unproven clinical significance were more common in nonrandomized and nonblinded studies, suggesting a publication bias toward positive but poorly executed studies. Although trial design is improving, there is a critical need to develop new biomarkers of mitochondrial disease. In this Perspectives article, we make recommendations for the design of future treatment trials in mitochondrial diseases. Patients and physicians should no longer rely on potentially biased data, with the associated costs and risks.
Iron-sulfur clusters (ISCs) are important prosthetic groups that define the functions of many proteins. Proteins with ISCs (called iron-sulfur or Fe-S proteins) are present in mitochondria, the cytosol, the endoplasmic reticulum and the nucleus. They participate in various biological pathways including oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS), the citric acid cycle, iron homeostasis, heme biosynthesis and DNA repair. Here, we report a homozygous mutation in LYRM4 in two patients with combined OXPHOS deficiency. LYRM4 encodes the ISD11 protein, which forms a complex with, and stabilizes, the sulfur donor NFS1. The homozygous mutation (c.203G>T, p.R68L) was identified via massively parallel sequencing of >1000 mitochondrial genes (MitoExome sequencing) in a patient with deficiency of complexes I, II and III in muscle and liver. These three complexes contain ISCs. Sanger sequencing identified the same mutation in his similarly affected cousin, who had a more severe phenotype and died while a neonate. Complex IV was also deficient in her skeletal muscle. Several other Fe-S proteins were also affected in both patients, including the aconitases and ferrochelatase. Mutant ISD11 only partially complemented for an ISD11 deletion in yeast. Our in vitro studies showed that the l-cysteine desulfurase activity of NFS1 was barely present when co-expressed with mutant ISD11. Our findings are consistent with a defect in the early step of ISC assembly affecting a broad variety of Fe-S proteins. The differences in biochemical and clinical features between the two patients may relate to limited availability of cysteine in the newborn period and suggest a potential approach to therapy.
Clinical significance of tumor cavitation (TC) prior to and following first-line chemotherapy of lung cancer is unclear. An evaluation of the incidence and prognostic role of TC among treatment naive lung cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy at a tertiary care institute in North India was undertaken. Retrospective data analysis and radiological review of newly diagnosed lung cancer patients initiated on chemotherapy over a 2-year period were carried out. Demographic characteristics and overall survival (OS) were compared between patients with and without TC at baseline. Patients who received 3 or more cycles of chemotherapy were included in analysis for response rates and new onset TC. Overall, 27 (7.8 %) of 347 patients had baseline TC. Among 271 non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients with (n = 26) and without (n = 245) baseline TC, histology was the only demographic characteristic that differed significantly [squamous 76.9 vs. 46.9 %; p = 0.004]. Majority (82.7 %) of NSCLC patients had advanced (stage IIIB/IV) disease. NSCLC patients with and without baseline TC alive at 6 months, 1 and 2 years were 34.6 versus 53.9 %, 11.5 versus 25.7 % and 3.8 versus 7.8 %, respectively. NSCLC patients with baseline TC had shorter median OS than those without (174 days [95 % confidence interval (CI) 106-242 days] vs. 235 days [95 % CI 207-263 days]). On multivariate Cox proportional hazard analysis, age [hazard ratio (HR) = 1.02, 95 % CI 1.01-1.04] and baseline TC [HR = 1.66, 95 % CI 1.03-2.69] were found significant. Response rates were similar between the two groups. Patients with TC after chemotherapy differed from those without in frequency of squamous histology (77.8 vs. 38.9 %; p < 0.001) and presence of metastatic disease (19.4 vs. 40.9 %; p = 0.016). Squamous histology has a significant association with presence of baseline TC and of new onset TC after chemotherapy. Presence of baseline TC has an independent association with shorter OS among NSCLC patients undergoing first-line chemotherapy.
Mitochondrial Ca(2+) uptake via the uniporter is central to cell metabolism, signaling, and survival. Recent studies identified MCU as the uniporters likely pore and MICU1, an EF-hand protein, as its critical regulator. How this complex decodes dynamic cytoplasmic [Ca(2+)] ([Ca(2+)]c) signals, to tune out small [Ca(2+)]c increases yet permit pulse transmission, remains unknown. We report that loss of MICU1 in mouse liver and cultured cells causes mitochondrial Ca(2+) accumulation during small [Ca(2+)]c elevations but an attenuated response to agonist-induced [Ca(2+)]c pulses. The latter reflects loss of positive cooperativity, likely via the EF-hands. MICU1 faces the intermembrane space and responds to [Ca(2+)]c changes. Prolonged MICU1 loss leads to an adaptive increase in matrix Ca(2+) binding, yet cells show impaired oxidative metabolism and sensitization to Ca(2+) overload. Collectively, the data indicate that MICU1 senses the [Ca(2+)]c to establish the uniporters threshold and gain, thereby allowing mitochondria to properly decode different inputs.
Technologies for genome-wide sequence interrogation have dramatically improved our ability to identify loci associated with complex human disease. However, a chasm remains between correlations and causality that stems, in part, from a limiting theoretical framework derived from Mendelian genetics and an incomplete understanding of disease physiology. Here we propose a set of criteria, akin to Kochs postulates for infectious disease, for assigning causality between genetic variants and human disease phenotypes.
Mitochondrial calcium uptake is present in nearly all vertebrate tissues and is believed to be critical in shaping calcium signaling, regulating ATP synthesis and controlling cell death. Calcium uptake occurs through a channel called the uniporter that resides in the inner mitochondrial membrane. Recently, we used comparative genomics to identify MICU1 and MCU as the key regulatory and putative pore-forming subunits of this channel, respectively. Using bioinformatics, we now report that the human genome encodes two additional paralogs of MICU1, which we call MICU2 and MICU3, each of which likely arose by gene duplication and exhibits distinct patterns of organ expression. We demonstrate that MICU1 and MICU2 are expressed in HeLa and HEK293T cells, and provide multiple lines of biochemical evidence that MCU, MICU1 and MICU2 reside within a complex and cross-stabilize each others protein expression in a cell-type dependent manner. Using in vivo RNAi technology to silence MICU1, MICU2 or both proteins in mouse liver, we observe an additive impairment in calcium handling without adversely impacting mitochondrial respiration or membrane potential. The results identify MICU2 as a new component of the uniporter complex that may contribute to the tissue-specific regulation of this channel.
Microscopy and mass spectrometry (MS) are complementary techniques: The former provides spatiotemporal information in living cells, but only for a handful of recombinant proteins at a time, whereas the latter can detect thousands of endogenous proteins simultaneously, but only in lysed samples. Here, we introduce technology that combines these strengths by offering spatially and temporally resolved proteomic maps of endogenous proteins within living cells. Our method relies on a genetically targetable peroxidase enzyme that biotinylates nearby proteins, which are subsequently purified and identified by MS. We used this approach to identify 495 proteins within the human mitochondrial matrix, including 31 not previously linked to mitochondria. The labeling was exceptionally specific and distinguished between inner membrane proteins facing the matrix versus the intermembrane space (IMS). Several proteins previously thought to reside in the IMS or outer membrane, including protoporphyrinogen oxidase, were reassigned to the matrix by our proteomic data and confirmed by electron microscopy. The specificity of peroxidase-mediated proteomic mapping in live cells, combined with its ease of use, offers biologists a powerful tool for understanding the molecular composition of living cells.
Known disease mechanisms in mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) maintenance disorders alter either the mitochondrial replication machinery (POLG, POLG2 and C10orf2) or the biosynthesis pathways of deoxyribonucleoside 5-triphosphates for mtDNA synthesis. However, in many of these disorders, the underlying genetic defect has yet to be discovered. Here, we identify homozygous nonsense and missense mutations in the orphan gene C20orf72 in three families with a mitochondrial syndrome characterized by external ophthalmoplegia, emaciation and respiratory failure. Muscle biopsies showed mtDNA depletion and multiple mtDNA deletions. C20orf72, hereafter MGME1 (mitochondrial genome maintenance exonuclease 1), encodes a mitochondrial RecB-type exonuclease belonging to the PD-(D/E)XK nuclease superfamily. We show that MGME1 cleaves single-stranded DNA and processes DNA flap substrates. Fibroblasts from affected individuals do not repopulate after chemically induced mtDNA depletion. They also accumulate intermediates of stalled replication and show increased levels of 7S DNA, as do MGME1-depleted cells. Thus, we show that MGME1-mediated mtDNA processing is essential for mitochondrial genome maintenance.
Mitochondria are centers of metabolism and signaling whose content and function must adapt to changing cellular environments. The biological signals that initiate mitochondrial restructuring and the cellular processes that drive this adaptive response are largely obscure. To better define these systems, we performed matched quantitative genomic and proteomic analyses of mouse muscle cells as they performed mitochondrial biogenesis. We find that proteins involved in cellular iron homeostasis are highly coordinated with this process and that depletion of cellular iron results in a rapid, dose-dependent decrease of select mitochondrial protein levels and oxidative capacity. We further show that this process is universal across a broad range of cell types and fully reversed when iron is reintroduced. Collectively, our work reveals that cellular iron is a key regulator of mitochondrial biogenesis, and provides quantitative data sets that can be leveraged to explore posttranscriptional and posttranslational processes that are essential for mitochondrial adaptation.
Mitochondrial calcium (Ca(2+)) import is a well-described phenomenon regulating cell survival and ATP production. Of multiple pathways allowing such entry, the mitochondrial Ca(2+) uniporter is a highly Ca(2+)-selective channel complex encoded by several recently-discovered genes. However, the identity of the pore-forming subunit remains to be established, since knockdown of all the candidate uniporter genes inhibit Ca(2+) uptake in imaging assays, and reconstitution experiments have been equivocal. To definitively identify the channel, we use whole-mitoplast voltage-clamping, the technique that originally established the uniporter as a Ca(2+) channel. We show that RNAi-mediated knockdown of the mitochondrial calcium uniporter (MCU) gene reduces mitochondrial Ca(2+) current (I MiCa ), whereas overexpression increases it. Additionally, a classic feature of I MiCa , its sensitivity to ruthenium red inhibition, can be abolished by a point mutation in the putative pore domain without altering current magnitude. These analyses establish that MCU encodes the pore-forming subunit of the uniporter channel. DOI:http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.00704.001.
Pantothenate kinase-associated neurodegeneration (PKAN) is a rare, inborn error of metabolism characterized by iron accumulation in the basal ganglia and by the presence of dystonia, dysarthria, and retinal degeneration. Mutations in pantothenate kinase 2 (PANK2), the rate-limiting enzyme in mitochondrial coenzyme A biosynthesis, represent the most common genetic cause of this disorder. How mutations in this core metabolic enzyme give rise to such a broad clinical spectrum of pathology remains a mystery. To systematically explore its pathogenesis, we performed global metabolic profiling on plasma from a cohort of 14 genetically defined patients and 18 controls. Notably, lactate is elevated in PKAN patients, suggesting dysfunctional mitochondrial metabolism. As predicted, but never previously reported, pantothenate levels are higher in patients with premature stop mutations in PANK2. Global metabolic profiling and follow-up studies in patient-derived fibroblasts also reveal defects in bile acid conjugation and lipid metabolism, pathways that require coenzyme A. These findings raise a novel therapeutic hypothesis, namely, that dietary fats and bile acid supplements may hold potential as disease-modifying interventions. Our study illustrates the value of metabolic profiling as a tool for systematically exploring the biochemical basis of inherited metabolic diseases.
The reduction of plasma low-density lipoprotein levels by HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors, or statins, has had a revolutionary impact in medicine, but muscle-related side effects remain a dose-limiting toxicity in many patients. We describe a chemical epistasis approach that can be useful in refining the mechanism of statin muscle toxicity, as well as in screening for agents that suppress muscle toxicity while preserving the ability of statins to increase the expression of the low-density lipoprotein receptor. Using this approach, we identified one compound that attenuates the muscle side effects in both cellular and animal models of statin toxicity, likely by influencing Rab prenylation. Our proof-of-concept screen lays the foundation for truly high-throughput screens that could help lead to the development of clinically useful adjuvants that can one day be co-administered with statins.
Mitochondria from diverse organisms are capable of transporting large amounts of Ca(2+) via a ruthenium-red-sensitive, membrane-potential-dependent mechanism called the uniporter. Although the uniporters biophysical properties have been studied extensively, its molecular composition remains elusive. We recently used comparative proteomics to identify MICU1 (also known as CBARA1), an EF-hand-containing protein that serves as a putative regulator of the uniporter. Here, we use whole-genome phylogenetic profiling, genome-wide RNA co-expression analysis and organelle-wide protein coexpression analysis to predict proteins functionally related to MICU1. All three methods converge on a novel predicted transmembrane protein, CCDC109A, that we now call mitochondrial calcium uniporter (MCU). MCU forms oligomers in the mitochondrial inner membrane, physically interacts with MICU1, and resides within a large molecular weight complex. Silencing MCU in cultured cells or in vivo in mouse liver severely abrogates mitochondrial Ca(2+) uptake, whereas mitochondrial respiration and membrane potential remain fully intact. MCU has two predicted transmembrane helices, which are separated by a highly conserved linker facing the intermembrane space. Acidic residues in this linker are required for its full activity. However, an S259A point mutation retains function but confers resistance to Ru360, the most potent inhibitor of the uniporter. Our genomic, physiological, biochemical and pharmacological data firmly establish MCU as an essential component of the mitochondrial Ca(2+) uniporter.
The metazoan mitochondrial translation machinery is unusual in having a single tRNA(Met) that fulfills the dual role of the initiator and elongator tRNA(Met). A portion of the Met-tRNA(Met) pool is formylated by mitochondrial methionyl-tRNA formyltransferase (MTFMT) to generate N-formylmethionine-tRNA(Met) (fMet-tRNA(met)), which is used for translation initiation; however, the requirement of formylation for initiation in human mitochondria is still under debate. Using targeted sequencing of the mtDNA and nuclear exons encoding the mitochondrial proteome (MitoExome), we identified compound heterozygous mutations in MTFMT in two unrelated children presenting with Leigh syndrome and combined OXPHOS deficiency. Patient fibroblasts exhibit severe defects in mitochondrial translation that can be rescued by exogenous expression of MTFMT. Furthermore, patient fibroblasts have dramatically reduced fMet-tRNA(Met) levels and an abnormal formylation profile of mitochondrially translated COX1. Our findings demonstrate that MTFMT is critical for efficient human mitochondrial translation and reveal a human disorder of Met-tRNA(Met) formylation.
Emerging technologies allow the high-throughput profiling of metabolic status from a blood specimen (metabolomics). We investigated whether metabolite profiles could predict the development of diabetes. Among 2,422 normoglycemic individuals followed for 12 years, 201 developed diabetes. Amino acids, amines and other polar metabolites were profiled in baseline specimens by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS). Cases and controls were matched for age, body mass index and fasting glucose. Five branched-chain and aromatic amino acids had highly significant associations with future diabetes: isoleucine, leucine, valine, tyrosine and phenylalanine. A combination of three amino acids predicted future diabetes (with a more than fivefold higher risk for individuals in top quartile). The results were replicated in an independent, prospective cohort. These findings underscore the potential key role of amino acid metabolism early in the pathogenesis of diabetes and suggest that amino acid profiles could aid in diabetes risk assessment.
Defects in cellular energy metabolism represent an early feature in a variety of human neurodegenerative diseases. Recent studies have shown that targeting energy metabolism can protect against neuronal cell death in such diseases. Here, we show that meclizine, a clinically used drug that we have recently shown to silence oxidative metabolism, suppresses apoptotic cell death in a murine cellular model of polyglutamine (polyQ) toxicity. We further show that this protective effect extends to neuronal dystrophy and cell death in Caenorhabditis elegans and Drosophila melanogaster models of polyQ toxicity. Meclizines mechanism of action is not attributable to its anti-histaminergic or anti-muscarinic activity, but rather, strongly correlates with its ability to suppress mitochondrial respiration. Since meclizine is an approved drug that crosses the blood-brain barrier, it may hold therapeutic potential in the treatment of polyQ toxicity disorders, such as Huntingtons disease.
Complex I is the first and largest enzyme in the respiratory chain and is located in the inner mitochondrial membrane. Complex I deficiency is the most commonly reported mitochondrial disorder presenting in childhood, but the molecular basis of most cases remains elusive. We describe a patient with complex I deficiency caused by mutation of the molecular chaperone FOXRED1. A combined homozygosity mapping and bioinformatics approach in a consanguineous Iranian-Jewish pedigree led to the identification of a homozygous mutation in FOXRED1 in a child who presented with infantile-onset encephalomyopathy. Silencing of FOXRED1 in human fibroblasts resulted in reduced complex I steady-state levels and activity, while lentiviral-mediated FOXRED1 transgene expression rescued complex I deficiency in the patient fibroblasts. This FAD-dependent oxidoreductase, which has never previously been associated with human disease, is now shown to be a complex I-specific molecular chaperone. The discovery of the c.1054C>T; p.R352W mutation in the FOXRED1 gene is a further contribution towards resolving the complex puzzle of the genetic basis of human mitochondrial disease.
For nearly three decades, the sequence of the human mitochondrial genome (mtDNA) has provided a molecular framework for understanding maternally inherited diseases. However, the vast majority of human mitochondrial disorders are caused by nuclear genome defects, which is not surprising since the mtDNA encodes only 13 proteins. Advances in genomics, mass spectrometry, and computation have only recently made it possible to systematically identify the complement of over 1,000 proteins that comprise the mammalian mitochondrial proteome. Here, we review recent progress in characterizing the mitochondrial proteome and highlight insights into its complexity, tissue heterogeneity, evolutionary origins, and biochemical versatility. We then discuss how this proteome is being used to discover the genetic basis of respiratory chain disorders as well as to expand our definition of mitochondrial disease. Finally, we explore future prospects and challenges for using the mitochondrial proteome as a foundation for systems analysis of the organelle.
Mitochondrial calcium uptake has a central role in cell physiology by stimulating ATP production, shaping cytosolic calcium transients and regulating cell death. The biophysical properties of mitochondrial calcium uptake have been studied in detail, but the underlying proteins remain elusive. Here we use an integrative strategy to predict human genes involved in mitochondrial calcium entry based on clues from comparative physiology, evolutionary genomics and organelle proteomics. RNA interference against 13 top candidates highlighted one gene, CBARA1, that we call hereafter mitochondrial calcium uptake 1 (MICU1). Silencing MICU1 does not disrupt mitochondrial respiration or membrane potential but abolishes mitochondrial calcium entry in intact and permeabilized cells, and attenuates the metabolic coupling between cytosolic calcium transients and activation of matrix dehydrogenases. MICU1 is associated with the mitochondrial inner membrane and has two canonical EF hands that are essential for its activity, indicating a role in calcium sensing. MICU1 represents the founding member of a set of proteins required for high-capacity mitochondrial calcium uptake. Its discovery may lead to the complete molecular characterization of mitochondrial calcium uptake pathways, and offers genetic strategies for understanding their contribution to normal physiology and disease.
Rapid advances in genotyping and sequencing technology have dramatically accelerated the discovery of genes underlying human disease. Elucidating the function of such genes and understanding their role in pathogenesis, however, remain challenging. Here, we introduce a genomic strategy to characterize such genes functionally, and we apply it to LRPPRC, a poorly studied gene that is mutated in Leigh syndrome, French-Canadian type (LSFC). We utilize RNA interference to engineer an allelic series of cellular models in which LRPPRC has been stably silenced to different levels of knockdown efficiency. We then combine genome-wide expression profiling with gene set enrichment analysis to identify cellular responses that correlate with the loss of LRPPRC. Using this strategy, we discovered a specific role for LRPPRC in the expression of all mitochondrial DNA-encoded mRNAs, but not the rRNAs, providing mechanistic insights into the enzymatic defects observed in the disease. Our analysis shows that nuclear genes encoding mitochondrial proteins are not collectively affected by the loss of LRPPRC. We do observe altered expression of genes related to hexose metabolism, prostaglandin synthesis, and glycosphingolipid biology that may either play an adaptive role in cell survival or contribute to pathogenesis. The combination of genetic perturbation, genomic profiling, and pathway analysis represents a generic strategy for understanding disease pathogenesis.
A recent large-scale, chemical screening study raised the hypothesis that propranolol may increase the risk of myopathy. We tested this hypothesis in a large population to assess whether (1) propranolol use is associated with an increased risk of myopathy and (2) the concurrent use of propranolol with a statin may further increase risk of myopathy.
Discovering the molecular basis of mitochondrial respiratory chain disease is challenging given the large number of both mitochondrial and nuclear genes that are involved. We report a strategy of focused candidate gene prediction, high-throughput sequencing and experimental validation to uncover the molecular basis of mitochondrial complex I disorders. We created seven pools of DNA from a cohort of 103 cases and 42 healthy controls and then performed deep sequencing of 103 candidate genes to identify 151 rare variants that were predicted to affect protein function. We established genetic diagnoses in 13 of 60 previously unsolved cases using confirmatory experiments, including cDNA complementation to show that mutations in NUBPL and FOXRED1 can cause complex I deficiency. Our study illustrates how large-scale sequencing, coupled with functional prediction and experimental validation, can be used to identify causal mutations in individual cases.
Estrogen-related receptor alpha (ERRalpha) and proliferator-activated receptor gamma coactivator-1alpha (PGC-1alpha) play central roles in the transcriptional control of energy homeostasis, but little is known about factors regulating their activity. Here we identified the homeobox protein prospero-related homeobox 1 (Prox1) as one such factor. Prox1 interacts with ERRalpha and PGC-1alpha, occupies promoters of metabolic genes on a genome-wide scale, and inhibits the activity of the ERRalpha/PGC-1alpha complex. DNA motif analysis suggests that Prox1 interacts with the genome through tethering to ERRalpha and other factors. Importantly, ablation of Prox1 and ERRalpha have opposite effects on the respiratory capacity of liver cells, revealing an unexpected role for Prox1 in the control of energy homeostasis.
Mitochondrial dysfunction has been observed in skeletal muscle of people with diabetes and insulin-resistant individuals. Furthermore, inherited mutations in mitochondrial DNA can cause a rare form of diabetes. However, it is unclear whether mitochondrial dysfunction is a primary cause of the common form of diabetes. To date, common genetic variants robustly associated with type 2 diabetes (T2D) are not known to affect mitochondrial function. One possibility is that multiple mitochondrial genes contain modest genetic effects that collectively influence T2D risk. To test this hypothesis we developed a method named Meta-Analysis Gene-set Enrichment of variaNT Associations (MAGENTA; http://www.broadinstitute.org/mpg/magenta). MAGENTA, in analogy to Gene Set Enrichment Analysis, tests whether sets of functionally related genes are enriched for associations with a polygenic disease or trait. MAGENTA was specifically designed to exploit the statistical power of large genome-wide association (GWA) study meta-analyses whose individual genotypes are not available. This is achieved by combining variant association p-values into gene scores and then correcting for confounders, such as gene size, variant number, and linkage disequilibrium properties. Using simulations, we determined the range of parameters for which MAGENTA can detect associations likely missed by single-marker analysis. We verified MAGENTAs performance on empirical data by identifying known relevant pathways in lipid and lipoprotein GWA meta-analyses. We then tested our mitochondrial hypothesis by applying MAGENTA to three gene sets: nuclear regulators of mitochondrial genes, oxidative phosphorylation genes, and approximately 1,000 nuclear-encoded mitochondrial genes. The analysis was performed using the most recent T2D GWA meta-analysis of 47,117 people and meta-analyses of seven diabetes-related glycemic traits (up to 46,186 non-diabetic individuals). This well-powered analysis found no significant enrichment of associations to T2D or any of the glycemic traits in any of the gene sets tested. These results suggest that common variants affecting nuclear-encoded mitochondrial genes have at most a small genetic contribution to T2D susceptibility.
Advances in analytical biochemistry have recently made it possible to obtain global snapshots of metabolism. A new study couples such technology with genome-wide genetic analysis to explore inherited variation in human metabolism.
Most cells have the inherent capacity to shift their reliance on glycolysis relative to oxidative metabolism, and studies in model systems have shown that targeting such shifts may be useful in treating or preventing a variety of diseases ranging from cancer to ischemic injury. However, we currently have a limited number of mechanistically distinct classes of drugs that alter the relative activities of these two pathways. We screen for such compounds by scoring the ability of >3,500 small molecules to selectively impair growth and viability of human fibroblasts in media containing either galactose or glucose as the sole sugar source. We identify several clinically used drugs never linked to energy metabolism, including the antiemetic meclizine, which attenuates mitochondrial respiration through a mechanism distinct from that of canonical inhibitors. We further show that meclizine pretreatment confers cardioprotection and neuroprotection against ischemia-reperfusion injury in murine models. Nutrient-sensitized screening may provide a useful framework for understanding gene function and drug action within the context of energy metabolism.
Mutations in either the mitochondrial or nuclear genomes can give rise to respiratory chain disease (RCD), a large class of devastating metabolic disorders. Their clinical management is challenging, in part because we lack facile and accurate biomarkers to aid in diagnosis and in the monitoring of disease progression. Here we introduce a sequential strategy that combines biochemical analysis of spent media from cell culture with analysis of patient plasma to identify disease biomarkers. First, we applied global metabolic profiling to spotlight 32 metabolites whose uptake or secretion kinetics were altered by chemical inhibition of the respiratory chain in cultured muscle . These metabolites span a wide range of pathways and include lactate and alanine, which are used clinically as biomarkers of RCD. We next measured the cell culture-defined metabolites in human plasma to discover that creatine is reproducibly elevated in two independent cohorts of RCD patients, exceeding lactate and alanine in magnitude of elevation and statistical significance. In cell culture extracellular creatine was inversely related to the intracellular phosphocreatine:creatine ratio suggesting that the elevation of plasma creatine in RCD patients signals a low energetic state of tissues using the phosphocreatine shuttle. Our study identifies plasma creatine as a potential biomarker of human mitochondrial dysfunction that could be clinically useful. More generally, we illustrate how spent media from cellular models of disease may provide a window into the biochemical derangements in human plasma, an approach that could, in principle, be extended to a range of complex diseases.
Upstream ORFs (uORFs) are mRNA elements defined by a start codon in the 5 UTR that is out-of-frame with the main coding sequence. Although uORFs are present in approximately half of human and mouse transcripts, no study has investigated their global impact on protein expression. Here, we report that uORFs correlate with significantly reduced protein expression of the downstream ORF, based on analysis of 11,649 matched mRNA and protein measurements from 4 published mammalian studies. Using reporter constructs to test 25 selected uORFs, we estimate that uORFs typically reduce protein expression by 30-80%, with a modest impact on mRNA levels. We additionally identify polymorphisms that alter uORF presence in 509 human genes. Finally, we report that 5 uORF-altering mutations, detected within genes previously linked to human diseases, dramatically silence expression of the downstream protein. Together, our results suggest that uORFs influence the protein expression of thousands of mammalian genes and that variation in these elements can influence human phenotype and disease.
The human oxidative phosphorylation (OxPhos) system consists of approximately 90 proteins encoded by nuclear and mitochondrial genomes and serves as the primary cellular pathway for ATP biosynthesis. While the core protein machinery for OxPhos is well characterized, many of its assembly, maturation, and regulatory factors remain unknown. We exploited the tight transcriptional control of the genes encoding the core OxPhos machinery to identify novel regulators. We developed a computational procedure, which we call expression screening, which integrates information from thousands of microarray data sets in a principled manner to identify genes that are consistently co-expressed with a target pathway across biological contexts. We applied expression screening to predict dozens of novel regulators of OxPhos. For two candidate genes, CHCHD2 and SLIRP, we show that silencing with RNAi results in destabilization of OxPhos complexes and a marked loss of OxPhos enzymatic activity. Moreover, we show that SLIRP plays an essential role in maintaining mitochondrial-localized mRNA transcripts that encode OxPhos protein subunits. Our findings provide a catalogue of potential novel OxPhos regulators that advance our understanding of the coordination between nuclear and mitochondrial genomes for the regulation of cellular energy metabolism.
Heme biosynthesis consists of a series of eight enzymatic reactions that originate in mitochondria and continue in the cytosol before returning to mitochondria. Although these core enzymes are well studied, additional mitochondrial transporters and regulatory factors are predicted to be required. To discover such unknown components, we utilized a large-scale computational screen to identify mitochondrial proteins whose transcripts consistently coexpress with the core machinery of heme biosynthesis. We identified SLC25A39, SLC22A4, and TMEM14C, which are putative mitochondrial transporters, as well as C1orf69 and ISCA1, which are iron-sulfur cluster proteins. Targeted knockdowns of all five genes in zebrafish resulted in profound anemia without impacting erythroid lineage specification. Moreover, silencing of Slc25a39 in murine erythroleukemia cells impaired iron incorporation into protoporphyrin IX, and vertebrate Slc25a39 complemented an iron homeostasis defect in the orthologous yeast mtm1Delta deletion mutant. Our results advance the molecular understanding of heme biosynthesis and offer promising candidate genes for inherited anemias.
Much of our current knowledge about mitochondria has come from studying patients who have respiratory chain disorders. These disorders comprise a large collection of individually rare syndromes, each presenting in a unique and often devastating way. In recent years, there has been great progress in defining their genetic basis, but we still know little about the cascade of events that gives rise to such diverse pathology. Here, we review these disorders and explore them in the context of a contemporary understanding of mitochondrial evolution, biochemistry and genetics. Fully deciphering their pathogenesis is a challenging next step that will inspire the development of drug treatments for rare and common diseases.
Electron microscopy (EM) is the standard method for imaging cellular structures with nanometer resolution, but existing genetic tags are inactive in most cellular compartments or require light and can be difficult to use. Here we report the development of APEX, a genetically encodable EM tag that is active in all cellular compartments and does not require light. APEX is a monomeric 28-kDa peroxidase that withstands strong EM fixation to give excellent ultrastructural preservation. We demonstrate the utility of APEX for high-resolution EM imaging of a variety of mammalian organelles and specific proteins using a simple and robust labeling procedure. We also fused APEX to the N or C terminus of the mitochondrial calcium uniporter (MCU), a recently identified channel whose topology is disputed. These fusions give EM contrast exclusively in the mitochondrial matrix, suggesting that both the N and C termini of MCU face the matrix. Because APEX staining is not dependent on light activation, APEX should make EM imaging of any cellular protein straightforward, regardless of the size or thickness of the specimen.
The molecular diagnosis of mitochondrial disorders still remains elusive in a large proportion of patients, but advances in next generation sequencing are significantly improving our chances to detect mutations even in sporadic patients. Syndromes associated with mitochondrial DNA multiple deletions are caused by different molecular defects resulting in a wide spectrum of predominantly adult-onset clinical presentations, ranging from progressive external ophthalmoplegia to multi-systemic disorders of variable severity. The mutations underlying these conditions remain undisclosed in half of the affected subjects. We applied next-generation sequencing of known mitochondrial targets (MitoExome) to probands presenting with adult-onset mitochondrial myopathy and harbouring mitochondrial DNA multiple deletions in skeletal muscle. We identified autosomal recessive mutations in the DGUOK gene (encoding mitochondrial deoxyguanosine kinase), which has previously been associated with an infantile hepatocerebral form of mitochondrial DNA depletion. Mutations in DGUOK occurred in five independent subjects, representing 5.6% of our cohort of patients with mitochondrial DNA multiple deletions, and impaired both muscle DGUOK activity and protein stability. Clinical presentations were variable, including mitochondrial myopathy with or without progressive external ophthalmoplegia, recurrent rhabdomyolysis in a young female who had received a liver transplant at 9 months of age and adult-onset lower motor neuron syndrome with mild cognitive impairment. These findings reinforce the concept that mutations in genes involved in deoxyribonucleotide metabolism can cause diverse clinical phenotypes and suggest that DGUOK should be screened in patients harbouring mitochondrial DNA deletions in skeletal muscle.
PGC1? is a key transcriptional coregulator of oxidative metabolism and thermogenesis. Through a high-throughput chemical screen, we found that molecules antagonizing the TRPVs (transient receptor potential vanilloid), a family of ion channels, induced PGC1? expression in adipocytes. In particular, TRPV4 negatively regulated the expression of PGC1?, UCP1, and cellular respiration. Additionally, it potently controlled the expression of multiple proinflammatory genes involved in the development of insulin resistance. Mice with a null mutation for TRPV4 or wild-type mice treated with a TRPV4 antagonist showed elevated thermogenesis in adipose tissues and were protected from diet-induced obesity, adipose inflammation, and insulin resistance. This role of TRPV4 as a cell-autonomous mediator for both the thermogenic and proinflammatory programs in adipocytes could offer a target for treating obesity and related metabolic diseases.
OBJECTIVE To identify the cause of an adult-onset multisystemic disease with multiple deletions of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA). DESIGN Case report. SETTING University hospitals. PATIENT A 65-year-old man with axonal sensorimotor peripheral neuropathy, ptosis, ophthalmoparesis, diabetes mellitus, exercise intolerance, steatohepatopathy, depression, parkinsonism, and gastrointestinal dysmotility. RESULTS Skeletal muscle biopsy revealed ragged-red and cytochrome- c oxidase-deficient fibers, and Southern blot analysis showed multiple mtDNA deletions. No deletions were detected in fibroblasts, and the results of quantitative polymerase chain reaction showed that the amount of mtDNA was normal in both muscle and fibroblasts. Exome sequencing using a mitochondrial library revealed compound heterozygous MPV17 mutations (p.LysMet88-89MetLeu and p.Leu143*), a novel cause of mtDNA multiple deletions. CONCLUSIONS In addition to causing juvenile-onset disorders with mtDNA depletion, MPV17 mutations can cause adult-onset multisystemic disease with multiple mtDNA deletions.
Metabolic reprogramming has been proposed to be a hallmark of cancer, yet a systematic characterization of the metabolic pathways active in transformed cells is currently lacking. Using mass spectrometry, we measured the consumption and release (CORE) profiles of 219 metabolites from media across the NCI-60 cancer cell lines, and integrated these data with a preexisting atlas of gene expression. This analysis identified glycine consumption and expression of the mitochondrial glycine biosynthetic pathway as strongly correlated with rates of proliferation across cancer cells. Antagonizing glycine uptake and its mitochondrial biosynthesis preferentially impaired rapidly proliferating cells. Moreover, higher expression of this pathway was associated with greater mortality in breast cancer patients. Increased reliance on glycine may represent a metabolic vulnerability for selectively targeting rapid cancer cell proliferation.
Calcium uptake into mitochondria occurs via a recently identified ion channel called the uniporter. Here, we characterize the phylogenomic distribution of the uniporters membrane-spanning pore subunit (MCU) and regulatory partner (MICU1). Homologs of both components tend to co-occur in all major branches of eukaryotic life, but both have been lost along certain protozoan and fungal lineages. Several bacterial genomes also contain putative MCU homologs that may represent prokaryotic calcium channels. The analyses indicate that the uniporter may have been an early feature of mitochondria.
The cellular content of mitochondria changes dynamically during development and in response to external stimuli, but the underlying mechanisms remain obscure. To systematically identify molecular probes and pathways that control mitochondrial abundance, we developed a high-throughput imaging assay that tracks both the per cell mitochondrial content and the cell size in confluent human umbilical vein endothelial cells. We screened 28,786 small molecules and observed that hundreds of small molecules are capable of increasing or decreasing the cellular content of mitochondria in a manner proportionate to cell size, revealing stereotyped control of these parameters. However, only a handful of compounds dissociate this relationship. We focus on one such compound, BRD6897, and demonstrate through secondary assays that it increases the cellular content of mitochondria as evidenced by fluorescence microscopy, mitochondrial protein content, and respiration, even after rigorous correction for cell size, cell volume, or total protein content. BRD6897 increases uncoupled respiration 1.6-fold in two different, non-dividing cell types. Based on electron microscopy, BRD6897 does not alter the percent of cytoplasmic area occupied by mitochondria, but instead, induces a striking increase in the electron density of existing mitochondria. The mechanism is independent of known transcriptional programs and is likely to be related to a blockade in the turnover of mitochondrial proteins. At present the molecular target of BRD6897 remains to be elucidated, but if identified, could reveal an important additional mechanism that governs mitochondrial biogenesis and turnover.
Advances in next-generation sequencing (NGS) promise to facilitate diagnosis of inherited disorders. Although in research settings NGS has pinpointed causal alleles using segregation in large families, the key challenge for clinical diagnosis is application to single individuals. To explore its diagnostic use, we performed targeted NGS in 42 unrelated infants with clinical and biochemical evidence of mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation disease. These devastating mitochondrial disorders are characterized by phenotypic and genetic heterogeneity, with more than 100 causal genes identified to date. We performed "MitoExome" sequencing of the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and exons of ~1000 nuclear genes encoding mitochondrial proteins and prioritized rare mutations predicted to disrupt function. Because patients and healthy control individuals harbored a comparable number of such heterozygous alleles, we could not prioritize dominant-acting genes. However, patients showed a fivefold enrichment of genes with two such mutations that could underlie recessive disease. In total, 23 of 42 (55%) patients harbored such recessive genes or pathogenic mtDNA variants. Firm diagnoses were enabled in 10 patients (24%) who had mutations in genes previously linked to disease. Thirteen patients (31%) had mutations in nuclear genes not previously linked to disease. The pathogenicity of two such genes, NDUFB3 and AGK, was supported by complementation studies and evidence from multiple patients, respectively. The results underscore the potential and challenges of deploying NGS in clinical settings.
Mitochondrial diseases comprise a diverse set of clinical disorders that affect multiple organ systems with varying severity and age of onset. Due to their clinical and genetic heterogeneity, these diseases are difficult to diagnose. We have developed a targeted exome sequencing approach to improve our ability to properly diagnose mitochondrial diseases and apply it here to an individual patient. Our method targets mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and the exons of 1,600 nuclear genes involved in mitochondrial biology or Mendelian disorders with multi-system phenotypes, thereby allowing for simultaneous evaluation of multiple disease loci.
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