Nitric oxide inhibits mitochondrial movement in forebrain neurons associated with disruption of mitochondrial membrane potential

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Nitric oxide (NO) has a number of physiological and pathophysiological effects in the nervous system. One target of NO is the mitochondrion, where it inhibits respiration and ATP synthesis, which may contribute to NO-mediated neuronal injury. Our recent studies suggested that impaired mitochondrial function impairs mitochondrial trafficking, which could also contribute to neuronal injury. Here, we studied the effects of NO on mitochondrial movement and morphology in primary cultures of forebrain neurons using a mitochondrially targeted enhanced yellow fluorescent protein. NO produced by two NO donors, papa non-oate and diethylamine/NO complex, caused a rapid cessation of mitochondrial movement but did not alter morphology. Movement recovered after removal of NO. The effects of NO on movement were associated with dissipation of the mitochondrial membrane potential. Increasing cGMP levels using 8-bromoguanosine 3′,5′-cyclic monophosphate, did not mimic the effects on mitochondrial movement. Furthermore, 1H-[1,2,4]oxadiazolo[4,3-a]quinoxalin-1-one (ODQ), an inhibitor of NO-induced activation of soluble guanylate cyclase, did not block the effects of NO. Thus, neither increasing nor decreasing cGMP levels had an effect on mitochondrial movement. Based on these data, we conclude that NO is a novel modulator of mitochondrial trafficking in neurons, which may act through the inhibition of mitochondrial function.

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