Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Potential target for treating mitochondrial disorders

Date:
March 27, 2014
Source:
Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research
Summary:
Mitochondria are essential for proper cellular functions. Mitochondrial defects are often observed in a variety of diseases, including cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease, and are the hallmarks of a number of untreatable genetic mitochondrial disorders whose manifestations range from muscle weakness to organ failure. Scientists have identified a protein whose inhibition could hold the key to alleviating suffering caused by such disorders.

Scientist using microscope in laboratory (stock image). Graduate student Walter Chen and postdoctoral researcher Kivanc Birsoy have unraveled how to rescue cells suffering from mitochondrial dysfunction, a finding that may lead to new therapies for this condition.
Credit: © Tyler Olson / Fotolia

Mitochondria, long known as "cellular power plants" for their generation of the key energy source adenosine triphosphate (ATP), are essential for proper cellular functions. Mitochondrial defects are often observed in a variety of diseases, including cancer, Alzheimer's disease, and Parkinson's disease, and are the hallmarks of a number of genetic mitochondrial disorders whose manifestations range from muscle weakness to organ failure. Despite a fairly strong understanding of the pathology of such genetic mitochondrial disorders, efforts to treat them have been largely ineffective.

But now, graduate student Walter Chen and postdoctoral researcher Kivanc Birsoy, both part of Whitehead Institute Member David Sabatini's lab, have unraveled how to rescue cells suffering from mitochondrial dysfunction, a finding that may lead to new therapies for this condition.

To find genetic mutations that would rescue the cells, Chen and Birsoy mimicked mitochondrial dysfunction in a haploid genetic system developed by former Whitehead Fellow Thijn Brummelkamp. After suppressing mitochondrial function using the drug antimycin, Chen and Birsoy saw that cells with mutations inactivating the gene ATPIF1 were protected against loss of mitochondrial function.

ATPIF1 is part of a backup system to save starving cells. When cells are deprived of oxygen and sugars, a mitochondrial complex that usually produces ATP, called ATP synthase, switches to consuming it, a state that can be harmful to an already starving cell. ATPIF1 interacts with ATP synthase to shut it down and prevent it from consuming the mitochondrion's dwindling ATP supply but, in the process, also worsens the mitochondrion's membrane potential

"In these diseases of mitochondrial dysfunction, in a sense, it's a false starvation situation for the cell -- there are plenty of nutrients, but because there's a block in the mitochondria's normal function, the mitochondria behave as if there's not enough oxygen," says Chen, who with Birsoy, authored a paper in the journal Cell Reports describing this work. "So in these situations, activation of ATPIF1 is not good, because there are still many nutrients around to provide ATP. Instead, blocking ATPIF1 is therapeutic because it allows for maintenance of the membrane potential."

Liver cells are frequently affected in patients with severe mitochondrial disease, so Chen and Birsoy tested the effects of mitochondrial dysfunction in the liver cells of control mice and mice with ATPIF1 genetically knocked out. Again, the liver cells with suppressed ATPIF1 function dealt better with mitochondrial dysfunction than liver cells with normal ATPIF1 activity.

"It's very simple -- if you get rid of ATPIF1, you survive in the presence of mitochondrial dysfunction," says Birsoy. "From what we see so far, there are no major side effects from blocking ATPIF1 in mice."

For Chen and Birsoy, the next step in this line of research is to test the effects of ATPIF1 suppression in mouse models of mitochondrial dysfunction. Then they will try to identify therapeutics that effectively block ATPIF1 function.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research. The original article was written by Nicole Giese Rura. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Walter W. Chen, Kıvanη Birsoy, Maria M. Mihaylova, Harriet Snitkin, Iwona Stasinski, Burcu Yucel, Erol C. Bayraktar, Jan E. Carette, Clary B. Clish, Thijn R. Brummelkamp, David D. Sabatini, David M. Sabatini. Inhibition of ATPIF1 Ameliorates Severe Mitochondrial Respiratory Chain Dysfunction in Mammalian Cells. Cell Reports, March 2014 DOI: 10.1016/j.celrep.2014.02.046

Cite This Page:

Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research. "Potential target for treating mitochondrial disorders." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 March 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140327123145.htm>.
Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research. (2014, March 27). Potential target for treating mitochondrial disorders. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140327123145.htm
Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research. "Potential target for treating mitochondrial disorders." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140327123145.htm (accessed October 23, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Ebola Fears Keep Guinea Hospitals Empty

Ebola Fears Keep Guinea Hospitals Empty

AP (Oct. 23, 2014) — Fears of Ebola are keeping doctors and patients alike away from hospitals in the West African nation of Guinea. (Oct. 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Orthodontist Mom Jennifer Salzer on the Best Time for Braces

Orthodontist Mom Jennifer Salzer on the Best Time for Braces

Working Mother (Oct. 22, 2014) — Is your child ready? Video provided by Working Mother
Powered by NewsLook.com
U.S. Issues Ebola Travel Restrictions, Are Visa Bans Next?

U.S. Issues Ebola Travel Restrictions, Are Visa Bans Next?

Newsy (Oct. 22, 2014) — Now that the U.S. is restricting travel from West Africa, some are dropping questions about a travel ban and instead asking about visa bans. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
More People Diagnosed With TB In 2013, But There's Good News

More People Diagnosed With TB In 2013, But There's Good News

Newsy (Oct. 22, 2014) — The World Health Organizations says TB numbers rose in 2013, but it's partly due to better detection and more survivors. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins