Adaptative capacity of mitochondrial biogenesis and of mitochondrial dynamics in response to pathogenic respiratory chain dysfunction

Antioxid Redox Signal. 2013 Aug 1;19(4):350-65. doi: 10.1089/ars.2011.4244. Epub 2012 Apr 19.


Aims: Cellular energy homeostasy relies on mitochondrial plasticity, the molecular determinants of which are multiple. Yet, the relative contribution of and possible cooperation between mitochondrial biogenesis and morphogenesis to cellular energy homeostasy remains elusive. Here we analyzed the adaptative capacity of mitochondrial content and dynamics in muscle biopsies of patients with a complex IV defect, and in skin fibroblasts challenged with complex IV inhibition.

Results: We observed a biphasic variation of the mitochondrial content upon complex IV inhibition in muscle biopsies and in skin fibroblasts. Adjustment of mitochondrial content for respiratory maintenance was blocked by using a dominant negative form of CREB (CREB-M1) and by L-NAME, a blocker of NO production. Accordingly, cells treated with KCN 6 μM showed higher levels of phospho-CREB, PGC1α mRNA, eNOS mRNA, and mtTFA mRNA. We also observed the increased expression of the fission protein DRP1 during fibroblasts adaptation, as well as mitochondrial ultrastructural defects indicative of increased fission in patients muscle micrographs. Accordingly, the expression of a dominant negative form of DRP1 (K38A mutant) reduced the biogenic response in fibroblasts challenged with 6 μM KCN.

Innovation: Our findings indicate that mitochondrial biogenesis and mitochondrial fission cooperate to promote cellular adaptation to respiratory chain inhibition.

Conclusions: Our data show for the first time that DRP1 intervenes during the initiation of the mitochondrial adaptative response to respiratory chain defects. The evidenced pathway of mitochondrial adaptation to respiratory chain deficiency provides a safety mechanism against mitochondrial dysfunction.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Blotting, Western
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Electron Transport / drug effects*
  • Fibroblasts / drug effects
  • Fibroblasts / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Mitochondria / drug effects*
  • Mitochondria / metabolism*
  • Mitochondria / ultrastructure
  • Mitochondrial Dynamics / drug effects*
  • Nitric Oxide / metabolism
  • Potassium Cyanide / pharmacology
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism


  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Nitric Oxide
  • Potassium Cyanide