Human RNF213, which encodes the protein mysterin, is a known susceptibility gene for moyamoya disease (MMD), a cerebrovascular condition with occlusive lesions and compensatory angiogenesis. Mysterin mutations, together with exposure to environmental trigger factors, lead to an elevated stroke risk since childhood. Mysterin is induced during cell stress, to function as cytosolic AAA+ ATPase and ubiquitylation enzyme. Little knowledge exists, in which context mysterin is needed. Here, we found that genetic ablation of several mitochondrial matrix factors, such as the peptidase ClpP, the transcription factor Tfam, as well as the peptidase and AAA+ ATPase Lonp1, potently induces Rnf213 transcript expression in various organs, in parallel with other components of the innate immune system. Mostly in mouse fibroblasts and human endothelial cells, the Rnf213 levels showed prominent upregulation upon Poly(I:C)-triggered TLR3-mediated responses to dsRNA toxicity, as well as upon interferon gamma treatment. Only partial suppression of Rnf213 induction was achieved by C16 as an antagonist of PKR (dsRNA-dependent protein kinase). Since dysfunctional mitochondria were recently reported to release immune-stimulatory dsRNA into the cytosol, our results suggest that mysterin becomes relevant when mitochondrial dysfunction or infections have triggered RNA-dependent inflammation. Thus, MMD has similarities with vasculopathies that involve altered nucleotide processing, such as Aicardi-Goutières syndrome or systemic lupus erythematosus. Furthermore, in MMD, the low penetrance of RNF213 mutations might be modified by dysfunctions in mitochondria or the TLR3 pathway.
Keywords: AAA+ disaggregase; Autoimmune vasculopathy; Innate immunity; Mitochondrial dysfunction; Perrault syndrome; Stroke genetics; Ubiquitin ligase.