Eukaryotic cell

A uvs-5 strain is deficient for a mitofusin gene homologue, fzo1, involved in maintenance of long life span in Neurospora crassa.

PMID 23223037


Mitochondria are highly dynamic organelles that continuously fuse and divide. To maintain mitochondria, cells establish an equilibrium of fusion and fission events, which are mediated by dynamin-like GTPases. We previously showed that an mus-10 strain, a mutagen-sensitive strain of the filamentous fungus Neurospora crassa, is defective in an F-box protein that is essential for the maintenance of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), long life span, and mitochondrial morphology. Similarly, a uvs-5 mutant accumulates deletions within its mtDNA, has a shortened life span, and harbors fragmented mitochondria, the latter of which is indicative of an imbalance between mitochondrial fission and fusion. Since the uvs-5 mutation maps very close to the locus of fzo1, encoding a mitofusin homologue thought to mediate mitochondrial outer membrane fusion, we determined the sequence of the fzo1 gene in the uvs-5 mutant. A single amino acid substitution (Q368R) was found in the GTPase domain of the FZO1 protein. Expression of wild-type FZO1 in the uvs-5 strain rescued the mutant phenotypes, while expression of a mutant FZO1 protein did not. Moreover, when knock-in of the Q368R mutation was performed on a wild-type strain, the resulting mutant displayed phenotypes identical to those of the uvs-5 mutant. Therefore, we concluded that the previously unidentified uvs-5 gene is fzo1. Furthermore, we used immunoprecipitation analysis to show that the FZO1 protein interacts with MUS-10, which suggests that these two proteins may function together to maintain mitochondrial morphology.