Mitochondrial Ultrastructure Is Coupled to Synaptic Performance at Axonal Release Sites

2018. március 20.

Mitochondrial function in neurons is tightly linked with metabolic and signaling mechanisms that ultimately determine neuronal performance. The subcellular distribution of these organelles is dynamically regulated as they are directed to axonal release sites on demand, but whether mitochondrial internal ultrastructure and molecular properties would reflect the actual performance requirements in a synapse-specific manner, remains to be established. Here, we examined performance-determining ultrastructural features of presynaptic mitochondria in GABAergic and glutamatergic axons of mice and human. Using electron-tomography and super-resolution microscopy we found, that these features were coupled to synaptic strength: mitochondria in boutons with high synaptic activity exhibited an ultrastructure optimized for high rate metabolism and contained higher levels of the respiratory chain protein cytochrome-c (CytC) than mitochondria in boutons with lower activity. The strong, cell type-independent correlation between mitochondrial ultrastructure, molecular fingerprints and synaptic performance suggests that changes in synaptic activity could trigger ultrastructural plasticity of presynaptic mitochondria, likely to adjust their performance to the actual metabolic demand.

eNeuro 2018 Jan 15, ENEURO.0390-17.2018;
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1523/ENEURO.0390-17.2018