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Mitochondrial dynamics in visual cortex are limited in vivo and not affected by axonal structural plasticity.

Research group Levelt
Publication year 2016
Published in Current Biology
Authors L.A. Smit-Rigter, Rajeev Rajendran, Catia A.P. Silva, Liselot Spierenburg, Femke Groeneweg, E. Ruimschotel, D. Van Versendaal, C. van der Togt, Ulf T. Eysel, J.A. Heimel, C. Lohmann, C.N. Levelt

Mitochondria buffer intracellular Ca2+ and provide energy [1]. Because synaptic structures with high Ca2+ buffering [2–4] or energy demand [5] are often localized far away from the soma, mitochondria are actively transported to these sites [6–11]. Also, the removal and degradation of mitochondria are tightly regulated [9, 12, 13], because dysfunctional mitochondria are a source of reactive oxygen species, which can damage the cell [14]. Deficits in mitochondrial trafficking have been proposed to contribute to the pathogenesis of Parkinson’s disease, schizophrenia, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, optic atrophy, and Alzheimer’s disease [13, 15–19]. In neuronal cultures, about a third of mitochondria are motile, whereas the majority remains stationary for several days [8, 20]. Activity-dependent mechanisms cause mitochondria to stop at synaptic sites [7, 8, 20, 21], which affects synapse function and maintenance. Reducing mitochondrial content in dendrites decreases spine density [22, 23], whereas increasing mitochondrial content or activity increases it [7]. These bidirectional interactions between synaptic activity and mitochondrial trafficking suggest that mitochondria may regulate synaptic plasticity. Here we investigated the dynamics of mitochondria in relation to axonal boutons of neocortical pyramidal neurons for the first time in vivo. We find that under these circumstances practically all mitochondria are stationary, both during development and in adulthood. In adult visual cortex, mitochondria are preferentially localized at putative boutons, where they remain for several days. Retinal-lesion-induced cortical plasticity increases turnover of putative boutons but leaves mitochondrial turnover unaffected. We conclude that in visual cortex in vivo, mitochondria are less dynamic than in vitro, and that structural plasticity does not affect mitochondrial dynamics.

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