Neuronal metabolic rewiring promotes resilience to neurodegeneration caused by mitochondrial dysfunction

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science Advances  28 Aug 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 35, eaba8271
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aba8271


Neurodegeneration in mitochondrial disorders is considered irreversible because of limited metabolic plasticity in neurons, yet the cell-autonomous implications of mitochondrial dysfunction for neuronal metabolism in vivo are poorly understood. Here, we profiled the cell-specific proteome of Purkinje neurons undergoing progressive OXPHOS deficiency caused by disrupted mitochondrial fusion dynamics. We found that mitochondrial dysfunction triggers a profound rewiring of the proteomic landscape, culminating in the sequential activation of precise metabolic programs preceding cell death. Unexpectedly, we identified a marked induction of pyruvate carboxylase (PCx) and other anaplerotic enzymes involved in replenishing tricarboxylic acid cycle intermediates. Suppression of PCx aggravated oxidative stress and neurodegeneration, showing that anaplerosis is protective in OXPHOS-deficient neurons. Restoration of mitochondrial fusion in end-stage degenerating neurons fully reversed these metabolic hallmarks, thereby preventing cell death. Our findings identify a previously unappreciated pathway conferring resilience to mitochondrial dysfunction and show that neurodegeneration can be reversed even at advanced disease stages.

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, so long as the resultant use is not for commercial advantage and provided the original work is properly cited.

View Full Text

Stay Connected to Science Advances