Paternal mitochondria are eliminated following fertilization by selective autophagy, but the mechanisms that restrict this process to sperm-derived organelles are not well understood. FUNDC1 (FUN14 domain containing 1) is a mammalian mitophagy receptor expressed on the mitochondrial outer membrane that contributes to mitochondrial quality control following hypoxic stress. Like FUNDC1, the C. elegans ortholog FNDC-1 is widely expressed in somatic tissues and mediates hypoxic mitophagy. Here, we report that FNDC-1 is strongly expressed in sperm but not oocytes and contributes to paternal mitochondria elimination. Paternal mitochondrial DNA is normally undetectable in wildtype larva, but can be detected in the cross-progeny of fndc-1 mutant males. Moreover, loss of fndc-1 retards the rate of paternal mitochondria degradation, but not that of membranous organelles, a nematode specific membrane compartment whose fusion is required for sperm motility. This is the first example of a ubiquitin-independent mitophagy receptor playing a role in the selective degradation of sperm mitochondria.
Keywords: Autophagy; C. elegans; Maternal inheritance; Mitochondria; Mitophagy.
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