Mitochondria shape is controlled by membrane fusion and fission mediated by mitofusins, Opa1, and Drp1, whereas mitochondrial motility relies on microtubule motors. These processes govern mitochondria subcellular distribution, whose defects are emphasized in neurons because of their polarized structure. We have studied how perturbation of the fusion/fission balance affects mitochondria distribution in Drosophila axons. Knockdown of Marf or Opa1 resulted in progressive loss of distal mitochondria and in a distinct oxidative phosphorylation and membrane potential deficit. Downregulation of Drp1 rescued the lethality and bioenergetic defect caused by neuronal Marf RNAi, but induced only a modest restoration of axonal mitochondria distribution. Surprisingly, Drp1 knockdown rescued fragmentation and fully restored aberrant distribution of axonal mitochondria produced by Opa1 RNAi; however, Drp1 knockdown did not improve viability or mitochondria function. Our data show that proper morphology is critical for proper axonal mitochondria distribution independent of bioenergetic efficiency. The health of neurons largely depends on mitochondria function, but does not depend on shape or distribution. Trevisan et al. separate the independent contribution of form and function in determining the distribution of mitochondria in axons. They show that morphology is crucial for proper axonal mitochondria distribution, independent of their bioenergetic efficiency. However, the health of neurons depends on mitochondria function, but does not depend on shape or distribution.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)