NEURONAL MITOCHONDRIAL CALCIUM UNIPORTER DEFICIENCY EXACERBATES AXONAL INJURY AND SUPPRESSES REMYELINATION IN MICE SUBJECTED TO EXPERIMENTAL AUTOIMMUNE ENCEPHALOMYELITIS
Holman, Scott Phillip
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High-capacity mitochondrial calcium (Ca2+) uptake by the mitochondrial Ca2+ uniporter (MCU) is strategically positioned to support the survival and remyelination of axons in multiple sclerosis (MS) by undocking mitochondria, buffering Ca2+ and elevating adenosine triphosphate (ATP) synthesis at metabolically stressed sites. Respiratory chain deficits in MS are proposed to metabolically compromise axon survival and remyelination by suppressing MCU activity. In support of this hypothesis, clinical scores, mitochondrial dysfunction, myelin loss, axon damage and inflammation were elevated while remyelination was blocked in neuronal MCU deficient (Thy1-MCU Def) mice relative to Thy1 controls subjected to experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE). At the first sign of walking deficits, mitochondria in EAE/Thy1 axons showed signs of activation. By contrast, cytoskeletal damage, fragmented mitochondria and large autophagosomes were seen in EAE/Thy1-MCU Def axons. As EAE severity increased, EAE/Thy1 axons were filled with massively swollen mitochondria with damaged cristae while EAE/Thy1-MCU Def axons were riddled with late autophagosomes. ATP concentrations and mitochondrial gene expression were suppressed while calpain activity, autophagy-related gene mRNA levels and autophagosome marker (LC3) co-localization in Thy1-expressing neurons were elevated in the spinal cords of EAE/Thy1-MCU Def compared to EAE/Thy1 mice. Suppression of remyelination and exacerbation of axonal damage in EAE/Thy1-MCU Def mice replicates key features of progressive MS and suggests that MCU inhibition contributes to axonal damage that drives MS disease progression.