Research ArticleCELL BIOLOGY

Endoplasmic reticulum mediates mitochondrial transfer within the osteocyte dendritic network

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Science Advances  20 Nov 2019:
Vol. 5, no. 11, eaaw7215
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aaw7215


Mitochondrial transfer plays a crucial role in the regulation of tissue homeostasis and resistance to cancer chemotherapy. Osteocytes have interconnecting dendritic networks and are a model to investigate its mechanism. We have demonstrated, in primary murine osteocytes with photoactivatable mitochondria (PhAM)floxed and in MLO-Y4 cells, mitochondrial transfer in the dendritic networks visualized by high-resolution confocal imaging. Normal osteocytes transferred mitochondria to adjacent metabolically stressed osteocytes and restored their metabolic function. The coordinated movement and transfer of mitochondria within the dendritic network rely on contact between the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and mitochondria. Mitofusin 2 (Mfn2), a GTPase that tethers ER to mitochondria, predominantly mediates the transfer. A decline in Mfn2 expression with age occurs concomitantly with both impaired mitochondrial distribution and transfer in the osteocyte dendritic network. These data show a previously unknown function of ER-mitochondrial contact in mediating mitochondrial transfer and provide a mechanism to explain the homeostasis of osteocytes.

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