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Mech Ageing Dev. 1990 Jul;55(1):15-37.

Biochemical, genetic and ultrastructural defects in a mitochondrial mutant (ER-3) of Neurospora crassa with senescence phenotype.

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Department of Biological Sciences, University of South Carolina, Columbia 29208.


The structural and functional abnormalities in a new respiratory deficient, mitochondrial senescence mutant ER-3 of Neurospora crassa are described. The mitochondrial mutant, which grows at a rate of only 10% of that of the wild type, was found deficient in all three cytochromes, and completely lacking in cytochromes aa3. Cytochrome oxidase activity in the mutant mitochondria was only about 5% of the wild type mitochondria. However, the total whole cell respiration rate of the mutant was 33% greater than that of the wild type, while the cyanide-resistant respiration rates were equal. The results of inhibitor studies clearly demonstrate that the mutant possesses a defect in one or more components of the terminal oxidase. Electron microscopic examination of whole cell sections and subsequent morphometric analysis revealed a significant (33%) reduction in membrane surface density of mitochondrial cristae in the mutant as compared with the wild type. Results of genetic and heterokaryon analyses indicate the location of mutation (ER-3) in the mitochondrial DNA. It is concluded that the senescence mutant ER-3 possesses a defect in the terminal portion of the mitochondrial respiratory apparatus. These results are consistent with previous analyses of mitochondrial DNA populations, and support the notion that obligately aerobic eukaryotic cells deficient in mitochondrial respiration necessarily exist as a result of stable heteroplasmosis and that defects in mitochondria lead to senescence in Neurospora mutant ER-3.

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