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Open Access Research article

Mitochondrial quality, dynamics and functional capacity in Parkinson’s disease cybrid cell lines selected for Lewy body expression

Emily N Cronin-Furman12, M Kathleen Borland3, Kristen E Bergquist2, James P Bennett24 and Patricia A Trimmer25*

Author Affiliations

1 Neuroscience Graduate Program, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA, 22908, USA

2 Parkinson’s and Movement Disorders Center, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA, 23298, USA

3 Department of Neurology, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA, 22908, USA

4 Department of Neurology, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA, 23298, USA

5 Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA, 23298, USA

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Molecular Neurodegeneration 2013, 8:6  doi:10.1186/1750-1326-8-6

Published: 26 January 2013

Abstract

Background

Lewy bodies (LB) are a neuropathological hallmark of Parkinson’s disease (PD) and other synucleinopathies. The role their formation plays in disease pathogenesis is not well understood, in part because studies of LB have been limited to examination of post-mortem tissue. LB formation may be detrimental to neuronal survival or merely an adaptive response to other ongoing pathological processes. In a human cytoplasmic hybrid (cybrid) neural cell model that expresses mitochondrial DNA from PD patients, we observed spontaneous formation of intracellular protein aggregates (“cybrid LB” or CLB) that replicate morphological and biochemical properties of native, cortical LB. We studied mitochondrial morphology, bioenergetics and biogenesis signaling by creating stable sub-clones of three PD cybrid cell lines derived from cells expressing CLB.

Results

Cloning based on CLB expression had a differential effect on mitochondrial morphology, movement and oxygen utilization in each of three sub-cloned lines, but no long-term change in CLB expression. In one line (PD63CLB), mitochondrial function declined compared to the original PD cybrid line (PD63Orig) due to low levels of mtDNA in nucleoids. In another cell line (PD61Orig), the reverse was true, and cellular and mitochondrial function improved after sub-cloning for CLB expression (PD61CLB). In the third cell line (PD67Orig), there was no change in function after selection for CLB expression (PD67CLB).

Conclusions

Expression of mitochondrial DNA derived from PD patients in cybrid cell lines induced the spontaneous formation of CLB. The creation of three sub-cloned cybrid lines from cells expressing CLB resulted in differential phenotypic changes in mitochondrial and cellular function. These changes were driven by the expression of patient derived mitochondrial DNA in nucleoids, rather than by the presence of CLB. Our studies suggest that mitochondrial DNA plays an important role in cellular and mitochondrial dysfunction in PD. Additional studies will be needed to assess the direct effect of CLB expression on cellular and mitochondrial function.