Background: Mitochondrial fusion protein mutations are a cause of inherited neuropathies such as Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease and dominant optic atrophy. Previously we reported that the fusion protein optic atrophy 1 (OPA1) is decreased in heart failure.
Methods and results: We investigated cardiac function, mitochondrial function, and mtDNA stability in a mouse model of the disease with OPA1 mutation. The homozygous mutation is embryonic lethal. Heterozygous OPA(+/-) mice exhibit reduced mtDNA copy number and decreased expression of nuclear antioxidant genes at 3 to 4 months. Although initial cardiac function was normal, at 12 months the OPA1(+/-) mouse hearts had decreased fractional shortening, cardiac output, and myocyte contraction. This coincided with the onset of blindness. In addition to small fragmented mitochondria, aged OPA1(+/-) mice had impaired cardiac mitochondrial function compared with wild-type littermates.
Conclusions: OPA1 mutation leads to deficiency in antioxidant transcripts, increased reactive oxygen species, mitochondrial dysfunction, and late-onset cardiomyopathy.
Keywords: OPA1; ROS; cardiomyopathy; mitochondrial fusion; mtDNA.