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FEBS J. 2009 Feb;276(4):1036-47. doi: 10.1111/j.1742-4658.2008.06847.x. Epub 2008 Jan 12.

Frataxin deficiency causes upregulation of mitochondrial Lon and ClpP proteases and severe loss of mitochondrial Fe-S proteins.

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Institut de Chimie des Substances Naturelles, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Gif-sur-Yvette, France.


Friedreich ataxia (FRDA) is a rare hereditary neurodegenerative disease characterized by progressive ataxia and cardiomyopathy. The cause of the disease is a defect in mitochondrial frataxin, an iron chaperone involved in the maturation of Fe-S cluster proteins. Several human diseases, including cardiomyopathies, have been found to result from deficiencies in the activity of specific proteases, which have important roles in protein turnover and in the removal of damaged or unneeded protein. In this study, using the muscle creatine kinase mouse heart model for FRDA, we show a clear progressive increase in protein levels of two important mitochondrial ATP-dependent proteases, Lon and ClpP, in the hearts of muscle creatine kinase mutants. These proteases have been shown to degrade unfolded and damaged proteins in the matrix of mitochondria. Their upregulation, which was triggered at a mid-stage of the disease through separate pathways, was accompanied by an increase in proteolytic activity. We also demonstrate a simultaneous and significant progressive loss of mitochondrial Fe-S proteins with no substantial change in their mRNA level. The correlative effect of Lon and ClpP upregulation on loss of mitochondrial Fe-S proteins during the progression of the disease may suggest that Fe-S proteins are potential targets of Lon and ClpP proteases in FRDA.

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