Complex-I-deficiency represents the most frequent pathogenetic cause of human mitochondriopathies. Therapeutic options for these neurodevelopmental life-threating disorders do not exist, partly due to the scarcity of appropriate model systems to study them. Caenorhabditis elegans is a genetically tractable model organism widely used to investigate neuronal pathologies. Here, we generate C. elegans models for mitochondriopathies and show that depletion of complex I subunits recapitulates biochemical, cellular and neurodevelopmental aspects of the human diseases. We exploit two models, nuo-5/NDUFS1- and lpd-5/NDUFS4-depleted animals, for a suppressor screening that identifies lutein for its ability to rescue animals’ neurodevelopmental deficits. We uncover overexpression of synaptic neuroligin as an evolutionarily conserved consequence of mitochondrial dysfunction, which we find to mediate an early cholinergic defect in C. elegans. We show lutein exerts its beneficial effects by restoring neuroligin expression independently from its antioxidant activity, thus pointing to a possible novel pathogenetic target for the human disease.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Physics and Astronomy(all)