Gene-by-environment interactions that disrupt mitochondrial homeostasis cause neurodegeneration in C. elegans Parkinson's models

Academic Article


  • Parkinson's disease (PD) is a complex multifactorial disorder where environmental factors interact with genetic susceptibility. Accumulating evidence suggests that mitochondria have a central role in the progression of neurodegeneration in sporadic and/or genetic forms of PD. We previously reported that exposure to a secondary metabolite from the soil bacterium, Streptomyces venezuelae, results in age- and dose-dependent dopaminergic (DA) neurodegeneration in Caenorhabditis elegans and human SH-SY5Y neurons. Initial characterization of this environmental factor indicated that neurodegeneration occurs through a combination of oxidative stress, mitochondrial complex I impairment, and proteostatic disruption. Here we present extended evidence to elucidate the interaction between this bacterial metabolite and mitochondrial dysfunction in the development of DA neurodegeneration. We demonstrate that it causes a time-dependent increase in mitochondrial fragmentation through concomitant changes in the gene expression of mitochondrial fission and fusion components. In particular, the outer mitochondrial membrane fission and fusion genes, drp-1 (a dynamin-related GTPase) and fzo-1 (a mitofusin homolog), are up- and down-regulated, respectively. Additionally, eat-3, an inner mitochondrial membrane fusion component, an OPA1 homolog, is also down regulated. These changes are associated with a metabolite-induced decline in mitochondrial membrane potential and enhanced DA neurodegeneration that is dependent on PINK-1 function. Genetic analysis also indicates an association between the cell death pathway and drp-1 following S. ven exposure. Metabolite-induced neurotoxicity can be suppressed by DA-neuron-specific RNAi knockdown of eat-3. AMPK activation by 5-amino-4-imidazole carboxamide riboside (AICAR) ameliorated metabolite- or PINK-1-induced neurotoxicity; however, it enhanced neurotoxicity under normal conditions. These studies underscore the critical role of mitochondrial dynamics in DA neurodegeneration. Moreover, given the largely undefined environmental components of PD etiology, these results highlight a response to an environmental factor that defines distinct mechanisms underlying a potential contributor to the progressive DA neurodegeneration observed in PD.
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    Author List

  • Kim H; Perentis RJ; Caldwell GA; Caldwell KA
  • Volume

  • 9
  • Issue

  • 5