Mitochondria-targeted molecules MitoQ and SS31 reduce mutant huntingtin-induced mitochondrial toxicity and synaptic damage in Huntington's disease


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Abstract

The objective of this study was to determine the protective effects of the mitochondria-targeted molecules MitoQ and SS31 in striatal neurons that stably express mutant huntingtin (Htt) (STHDhQ111/Q111) in Huntington's disease (HD). We studied mitochondrial and synaptic activities by measuring mRNA and the protein levels of mitochondrial and synaptic genes, mitochondrial function, and ultra-structural changes in MitoQ- and SS31-treated mutant Htt neurons relative to untreated mutant Htt neurons. We used gene expression analysis, biochemical methods, transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and confocal microscopy methods. In the MitoQ- and SS31-treated mutant Htt neurons, fission genes Drp1 and Fis1 were down-regulated, and fusion genes Mfn1, Mfn2 and Opa1 were up-regulated relative to untreated neurons, suggesting that mitochondria-targeted molecules reduce fission activity. Interestingly, the mitochondrial biogenesis genes PGC1α, PGC1β, Nrf1, Nrf2 and TFAM were up-regulated in MitoQ- and SS31-treated mutant Htt neurons. The synaptic genes synaptophysin and PSD95 were up-regulated, and mitochondrial function was normal in the MitoQ- and SS31-treated mutant Htt neurons. Immunoblotting findings of mitochondrial and synaptic proteins agreed with the mRNA findings. TEM studies revealed decreased numbers of structurally intact mitochondria in MitoQ- and SS31-treated mutant Htt neurons. These findings suggest that mitochondria-targeted molecules MitoQ and SS31 are protective against mutant Htt-induced mitochondrial and synaptic damage in HD neurons, and these mitochondria-targeted molecules are potential therapeutic molecules for the treatment of HD neurons.

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