Research Article

Imbalanced OPA1 processing and mitochondrial fragmentation cause heart failure in mice

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Science  04 Dec 2015:
Vol. 350, Issue 6265, aad0116
DOI: 10.1126/science.aad0116

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A change of heart (mitochondria)

Mitochondria provide an essential source of energy to drive cellular processes and are particularly important in heart muscle cells (see the Perspective by Gottlieb and Bernstein). After birth, the availability of oxygen and nutrients to organs and tissues changes. This invokes changes in metabolism. Gong et al. studied the developmental transitions in mouse heart mitochondria soon after birth. Mitochondria were replaced wholesale via mitophagy in cardiomyocytes over the first 3 weeks after birth. Preventing this turnover by interfering with parkin-mediated mitophagy specifically in cardiomyocytes prevented the normal metabolic transition and caused heart failure. Thus, the heart has coopted a quality-control pathway to facilitate a major developmental transition after birth. Wai et al. examined the role of mitochondrial fission and fusion in mouse cardiomyocytes. Disruption of these processes led to “middle-aged” death from a form of dilated cardiomyopathy. Mice destined to develop cardiomyopathy were protected by feeding with a high-fat diet, which altered cardiac metabolism.

Science, this issue p. 10.1126/science.aad2459, p. 10.1126/science.aad0116; see also p. 1162