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Cell Death Differ. 2016 Feb;23(2):291-302. doi: 10.1038/cdd.2015.94. Epub 2015 Jul 10.

Loss of Drosophila i-AAA protease, dYME1L, causes abnormal mitochondria and apoptotic degeneration.

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Laboratory of Molecular Genetics, National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, USA.
National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, USA.
National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, USA.


Mitochondrial AAA (ATPases Associated with diverse cellular Activities) proteases i-AAA (intermembrane space-AAA) and m-AAA (matrix-AAA) are closely related and have major roles in inner membrane protein homeostasis. Mutations of m-AAA proteases are associated with neuromuscular disorders in humans. However, the role of i-AAA in metazoans is poorly understood. We generated a deletion affecting Drosophila i-AAA, dYME1L (dYME1L(del)). Mutant flies exhibited premature aging, progressive locomotor deficiency and neurodegeneration that resemble some key features of m-AAA diseases. dYME1L(del) flies displayed elevated mitochondrial unfolded protein stress and irregular cristae. Aged dYME1L(del) flies had reduced complex I (NADH/ubiquinone oxidoreductase) activity, increased level of reactive oxygen species (ROS), severely disorganized mitochondrial membranes and increased apoptosis. Furthermore, inhibiting apoptosis by targeting dOmi (Drosophila Htra2/Omi) or DIAP1, or reducing ROS accumulation suppressed retinal degeneration. Our results suggest that i-AAA is essential for removing unfolded proteins and maintaining mitochondrial membrane architecture. Loss of i-AAA leads to the accumulation of oxidative damage and progressive deterioration of membrane integrity, which might contribute to apoptosis upon the release of proapoptotic molecules such as dOmi. Containing ROS level could be a potential strategy to manage mitochondrial AAA protease deficiency.

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