DJ-1 knock-down impairs astrocyte mitochondrial function

N. J. Larsen, G. Ambrosi, S. J. Mullett, S. B. Berman, D. A. Hinkle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Mitochondrial dysfunction has long been implicated in the pathogenesis of Parkinson's disease (PD). PD brain tissues show evidence for mitochondrial respiratory chain Complex I deficiency. Pharmacological inhibitors of Complex I, such as rotenone, cause experimental parkinsonism. The cytoprotective protein DJ-1, whose deletion is sufficient to cause genetic PD, is also known to have mitochondria-stabilizing properties. We have previously shown that DJ-1 is over-expressed in PD astrocytes, and that DJ-1 deficiency impairs the capacity of astrocytes to protect co-cultured neurons against rotenone. Since DJ-1 modulated, astrocyte-mediated neuroprotection against rotenone may depend upon proper astrocytic mitochondrial functioning, we hypothesized that DJ-1 deficiency would impair astrocyte mitochondrial motility, fission/fusion dynamics, membrane potential maintenance, and respiration, both at baseline and as an enhancement of rotenone-induced mitochondrial dysfunction. In astrocyte-enriched cultures, we observed that DJ-1 knock-down reduced mitochondrial motility primarily in the cellular processes of both untreated and rotenone treated cells. In these same cultures, DJ-1 knock-down did not appreciably affect mitochondrial fission, fusion, or respiration, but did enhance rotenone-induced reductions in the mitochondrial membrane potential. In neuron-astrocyte co-cultures, astrocytic DJ-1 knock-down reduced astrocyte process mitochondrial motility in untreated cells, but this effect was not maintained in the presence of rotenone. In the same co-cultures, astrocytic DJ-1 knock-down significantly reduced mitochondrial fusion in the astrocyte cell bodies, but not the processes, under the same conditions of rotenone treatment in which DJ-1 deficiency is known to impair astrocyte-mediated neuroprotection. Our studies therefore demonstrated the following new findings: (i) DJ-1 deficiency can impair astrocyte mitochondrial physiology at multiple levels, (ii) astrocyte mitochondrial dynamics vary with sub-cellular region, and (iii) the physical presence of neurons can affect astrocyte mitochondrial behavior.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)251-264
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - Nov 24 2011


  • Dynamics
  • Fission
  • Fusion
  • Mitochondria
  • Motility
  • Rotenone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'DJ-1 knock-down impairs astrocyte mitochondrial function'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this