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Liu, W., Duan, X., Fang, X., Shang, W., Tong, C. (2018). Mitochondrial protein import regulates cytosolic protein homeostasis and neuronal integrity.  Autophagy 14(8): 1293--1309.
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Research paper

Neurodegeneration is characterized by protein aggregate deposits and mitochondrial malfunction. Reduction in Tom40 (translocase of outer membrane 40) expression, a key subunit of the translocase of the outer mitochondrial membrane complex, led to accumulation of ubiquitin (Ub)-positive protein aggregates engulfed by Atg8a-positive membranes. Other macroautophagy markers were also abnormally accumulated. Autophagy was induced but the majority of autophagosomes failed to fuse with lysosomes when Tom40 was downregulated. In Tom40 RNAi tissues, autophagosome-like (AL) structures, often not sealed, were 10 times larger than starvation induced autophagosomes. Atg5 downregulation abolished Tom40 RNAi induced AL structure formation, but the Ub-positive aggregates remained, whereas knock down of Syx17, a gene required for autophagosome-lysosome fusion, led to the disappearance of giant AL structures and accumulation of small autophagosomes and phagophores near the Ub-positive aggregates. The protein aggregates contained many mitochondrial preproteins, cytosolic proteins, and proteasome subunits. Proteasome activity and ATP levels were reduced and the ROS levels was increased in Tom40 RNAi tissues. The simultaneous inhibition of proteasome activity, reduction in ATP production, and increase in ROS, but none of these conditions alone, can mimic the imbalanced proteostasis phenotypes observed in Tom40 RNAi cells. Knockdown of ref(2)P or ectopic expression of Pink1 and park greatly reduced aggregate formation in Tom40 RNAi tissues. In nerve tissues, reduction in Tom40 activity leads to aggregate formation and neurodegeneration. Rather than diminishing the neurodegenerative phenotypes, overexpression of Pink1 enhanced them. We proposed that defects in mitochondrial protein import may be the key to linking imbalanced proteostasis and mitochondrial defects.

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PMC6208451 (PMC) (EuropePMC)
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    1554-8627 1554-8635
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