Leucine zipper-EF-hand containing transmembrane protein 1 (Letm1) is a mitochondrial protein that is associated with seizure attacks in Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome. This study aimed to investigate the expression pattern of Letm1 in patients with temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) and pilocarpine-induced rat model of epilepsy, and to determine if altered Letm1 leads to mitochondrial dysfunction and increased susceptibility to seizures. Using immunohistochemical, immunofluorescent, western blotting, and transmission electron microscopic methods, we have found that Letm1 was significantly decreased in TLE patients, and gradually decreased in experimental rats from 1 to 7 days after onset of seizures. Letm1 knock-down by a lentivirus bearing LV-Letm1-sh resulted in mitochondrial swelling and decreased expression of Letm1 target protein mitochondrially encoded cytochrome B (MT-CYB). Behavioral study revealed that inhibition of Letm1 caused early onset of the first seizure, increased seizure frequency, and duration. However, administration of Letm1 homolog nigericin failed to prevent epilepsy. These results indicate that inhibition of Letm1 and mitochondrial dysfunctions contributes to the development of epileptic seizures. Appropriate Letm1 level may be critical for maintaining normal neuronal functions.
Keywords: Letm1; MT-CYB; lentivirus; mitochondria; temporal lobe epilepsy.
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