Dysregulation of mitochondrial Ca2+ homeostasis has been linked to neurodegenerative diseases. Mitochondrial Ca2+ uptake is mediated via the calcium uniporter complex that is primarily regulated by MICU1, a Ca2+-sensing gatekeeper. Recently, human patients with MICU1 loss-of-function mutations were diagnosed with neuromuscular and cognitive impairments. While studies in patient-derived cells revealed altered mitochondrial calcium signaling, the neuronal pathogenesis was difficult to study. To fill this void, we created a neuron-specific MICU1-KO mouse model. These animals show progressive, abnormal motor and cognitive phenotypes likely caused by the degeneration of motor neurons in the spinal cord and the cortex. We found increased susceptibility to mitochondrial Ca2+ overload-induced excitotoxic insults and cell death in MICU1-KO neurons and MICU1-deficient patient-derived cells, which can be blunted by inhibiting the mitochondrial permeability transition pore. Thus, our study identifies altered neuronal mitochondrial Ca2+ homeostasis as causative in the clinical symptoms of MICU1-deficient patients and highlights potential therapeutic targets.
Recommended CitationSingh, Raghavendra; Bartok, Adam; Paillard, Melanie; Tyburski, Ashley L.; Elliott, Melanie B; and Hajnóczky, György, "Uncontrolled mitochondrial calcium uptake underlies the pathogenesis of neurodegeneration in MICU1-deficient mice and patients" (2022). Department of Pathology, Anatomy, and Cell Biology Faculty Papers. Paper 351.
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