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Neuropathy-associated Fars2 deficiency affects neuronal development and potentiates neuronal apoptosis by impairing mitochondrial function

Chen X, Liu F, Li B, Wang Y, Yuan L, Yin A, Chen Q, Hu W, Yao Y, Zhang M, Wu Y, Chen K
Cell Biosci. 2022 Jul 6;12(1):103. doi: 10.1186/s13578-022-00838-y
Background: Neurodegenerative diseases encompass an extensive and heterogeneous group of nervous system disorders which are characterized by progressive degeneration and death of neurons. Many lines of evidence suggest the participation of mitochondria dysfunction in these diseases. Mitochondrial phenylalanyl-tRNA synthetase, encoded by FARS2, catalyzes the transfer of phenylalanine to its cognate tRNA for protein synthesis. As a member of mt-aaRSs genes, FARS2 missense homozygous mutation c.424G > T (p.D142Y) found in a Chinese consanguineous family first built the relationship between pure hereditary spastic paraplegia (HSP) and FARS2 gene. More FARS2 variations were subsequently found to cause heterogeneous group of neurologic disorders presenting three main phenotypic manifestations: infantile-onset epileptic mitochondrial encephalopathy, later-onset spastic paraplegia and juvenile onset refractory epilepsy. Studies showed that aminoacylation activity is frequently disrupt in cases with FARS2 mutations, indicating a loss-of-function mechanism. However, the underlying pathogenesis of neuropathy-associated Fars2 deficiency is still largely unknown. Results: Early gestation lethality of global Fars2 knockout mice was observed prior to neurogenesis. The conditional Fars2 knockout-mouse model delayed lethality to late-gestation, resulting in a thinner cortex and an enlarged ventricle which is consist with the MRI results revealing cortical atrophy and reduced cerebral white matter volume in FARS2-deficient patients. Delayed development of neurite outgrowth followed by neuronal apoptosis was confirmed in Fars2-knockdown mouse primary cultured neurons. Zebrafish, in which fars2 was knocked down, exhibited aberrant motor neuron function including reduced locomotor capacity which well restored the spastic paraplegia phenotype of FARS2-deficient patients. Altered mitochondrial protein synthesis and reduced levels of oxidative phosphorylation complexes were detected in Fars2-deficient samples. And thus, reduced ATP, total NAD levels and mitochondrial membrane potential, together with increased ROS production, revealed mitochondrial dysfunction both in vitro and in vivo. Dctn3 is a potential downstream molecule in responds to Fars2 deficient in neurons, which may provide some evidence for the development of pathogenesis study and therapeutic schedule. Conclusions: The Fars2 deficiency genetic models developed in this study cover the typical clinical manifestations in FARS2 patients, and help clarify how neuropathy-associated Fars2 deficiency, by damaging the mitochondrial respiratory chain and impairing mitochondrial function, affects neuronal development and potentiates neuronal cell apoptosis.
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