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Nat Rev Neurol. 2015 Jan;11(1):11-24. doi: 10.1038/nrneurol.2014.228. Epub 2014 Dec 9.

Disturbed mitochondrial dynamics and neurodegenerative disorders.

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Wellcome Trust Centre for Mitochondrial Research, Institute of Genetic Medicine, Newcastle University, International Centre for Life, Central Parkway, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 3BZ, UK.
IRCCS Institute of Neurological Sciences of Bologna, Bellaria Hospital, Via Altura 3, 40139 Bologna, Italy.


Mitochondria form a highly interconnected tubular network throughout the cell via a dynamic process, with mitochondrial segments fusing and breaking apart continuously. Strong evidence has emerged to implicate disturbed mitochondrial fusion and fission as central pathological components underpinning a number of childhood and adult-onset neurodegenerative disorders. Several proteins that regulate the morphology of the mitochondrial network have been identified, the most widely studied of which are optic atrophy 1 and mitofusin 2. Pathogenic mutations that disrupt these two pro-fusion proteins cause autosomal dominant optic atrophy and axonal Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease type 2A, respectively. These disorders predominantly affect specialized neurons that require precise shuttling of mitochondria over long axonal distances. Considerable insight has also been gained by carefully dissecting the deleterious consequences of imbalances in mitochondrial fusion and fission on respiratory chain function, mitochondrial quality control (mitophagy), and programmed cell death. Interestingly, these cellular processes are also implicated in more-common complex neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer disease and Parkinson disease, indicating a common pathological thread and a close relationship with mitochondrial structure, function and localization. Understanding how these fundamental processes become disrupted will prove crucial to the development of therapies for the growing number of neurodegenerative disorders linked to disturbed mitochondrial dynamics.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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