Mitochondrial complex I-the largest enzyme complex of the mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation machinery-has been proposed to contribute to a variety of age-related pathological alterations as well as longevity. The enzyme complex-consisting proteins are encoded by both nuclear (nDNA) and mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA). While some association studies of mtDNA encoded complex I genes and lifespan in humans have been reported, experimental evidence and the functional consequence of such variants is limited to studies using invertebrate models. Here, we present experimental evidence that a homoplasmic mutation in the mitochondrially encoded complex I gene mt-Nd2 modulates lifespan by altering cellular tryptophan levels and, consequently, ageing-related pathways in mice. A conplastic mouse strain carrying a mutation at m.4738C > A in mt-Nd2 lived slightly, but significantly, shorter than the controls did. The same mutation led to a higher susceptibility to glucose intolerance induced by high-fat diet feeding. These phenotypes were not observed in mice carrying a mutation in another mtDNA encoded complex I gene, mt-Nd5, suggesting the functional relevance of particular mutations in complex I to ageing and age-related diseases.
Keywords: Conplastic mouse strains; glucose metabolism; healthspan; lifespan; mice; mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA); mitochondrially encoded complex I; mt-Nd2.