Brain structures differ in the magnitude of age-related neuron loss with the cerebellum being more affected. An underlying cause could be an age-related decline in mitochondrial bioenergetics. Successful aging of mitochondria reflects a balanced turnover of proteins involved in mitochondrial biogenesis and mitophagy. Thus, an imbalance in mitochondrial turnover can contribute to the diminution of cellular function seen during aging. Mitochondrial biogenesis and mitophagy are mediated by a set of proteins including MFN1, MFN2, OPA1, DRP1, FIS1 as well as DMN1l and DNM1, all of which are required for mitochondrial fission. Using N15 labeling, we report that the turnover rates for DMN1l and FIS1 go in opposite directions in the cerebellum of 22-month-old C57BL6j mice as compared to 3-month-old mice. Previous studies have reported decreased turnover rates for the mitochondrial respiratory complexes of aged rodents. In contrast, we found increased turnover rates for mitochondrial proteins of the oxidative phosphorylation chain in the aged mice as compared to young mice. Furthermore, the turnover rate of the components that are most affected by aging -complex III components (ubiquinol cytochrome C oxidoreductase) and complex IV components (cytochrome C oxidase)- was significantly increased in the senescent cerebellum. However, the turnover rates of proteins involved in mitophagy (i.e., the proteasomal and lysosomal degradation of damaged mitochondria) were not significantly altered with age. Overall, our results suggest that an age-related imbalance in the turnover rates of proteins involved in mitochondrial biogenesis and mitophagy (DMN1l, FIS1) in conjunction with an age-related imbalance in the turnover rates of proteins of the complexes III and IV of the electron transfer chain, might impair cerebellar mitochondrial bioenergetics in old mice.
Keywords: aging; cerebellum; mice; mitochondria; proteins; turnover.