Mitochondrial fission factor (MFF) is an adapter that targets dynamin-related protein 1 from the cytosol to the mitochondria for fission. Loss-of-function MFF mutations cause encephalopathy due to defective mitochondrial and peroxisomal fission 2 (EMPF2). To elucidate the molecular mechanisms that were involved, we analyzed the functional effects of MFF depletion in deciduous teeth-derived dental pulp stem cells differentiating into dopaminergic neurons (DNs). When treated with MFF-targeting small interfering RNA, DNs showed impaired neurite outgrowth and reduced mitochondrial signals in neurites harboring elongated mitochondria. MFF silencing also caused mitochondrial Ca2+ accumulation through accelerated Ca2+ influx from the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) via the inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate receptor. Mitochondrial Ca2+ overload led DNs to produce excessive reactive oxygen species (ROS), and downregulated peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-gamma co-activator-1 alpha (PGC-1α). MFF was co-immunoprecipitated with voltage-dependent anion channel 1, an essential component of the ER-mitochondrial Ca2+ transport system. Folic acid supplementation normalized ROS levels, PGC-1α mediated mitochondrial biogenesis, and neurite outgrowth in MFF depleted DNs, without affecting their mitochondrial morphology or Ca2+ levels. We propose that MFF negatively regulates the mitochondrial Ca2+ influx from the ER. MFF-insufficiency recapitulated the EMPF2 neuropathology with increased oxidative stress and suppressed mitochondrial biogenesis. ROS and mitochondrial biogenesis might be potential therapeutic targets for EMPF2.
!!!All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes