Obesity-exposed oocytes accumulate and transmit damaged mitochondria due to an inability to activate mitophagy.
Dev Biol. 2017 Apr 21. Epub 2017 Apr 21. PMID: 28438607
Anna L Boudoures
Mitochondria are the most prominent organelle in the oocyte. Somatic cells maintain a healthy population of mitochondria by degrading damaged mitochondria via mitophagy, a specialized autophagy pathway. However, evidence from previous work investigating the more general macroautophagy pathway in oocytes suggests that mitophagy may not be active in the oocyte. This would leave the vast numbers of mitochondria - poised to be inherited by the offspring - vulnerable to damage. Here we test the hypothesis that inactive mitophagy in the oocyte underlies maternal transmission of dysfunctional mitochondria. To determine whether oocytes can complete mitophagy, we used either CCCP or AntimycinA to depolarize mitochondria and trigger mitophagy. After depolarization, we did not detect co-localization of mitochondria with autophagosomes and mitochondrial DNA copy number remained unchanged, indicating the non-functional mitochondrial population was not removed. To investigate the impact of an absence of mitophagy in oocytes with damaged mitochondria on offspring mitochondrial function, we utilized in vitro fertilization of high fat high sugar (HF/HS)-exposed oocytes, which have lower mitochondrial membrane potential and damaged mitochondria. Here, we demonstrate that blastocysts generated from HF/HS oocytes have decreased mitochondrial membrane potential, lower metabolites involved in ATP generation, and accumulation of PINK1, a mitophagy marker protein. This mitochondrial phenotype in the blastocyst mirrors the phenotype we show in HF/HS exposed oocytes. Taken together, these data suggest that the mechanisms governing oocyte mitophagy are fundamentally distinct from those governing somatic cell mitophagy and that the absence of mitophagy in the setting of HF/HS exposure contributes to the oocyte-to-blastocyst transmission of dysfunctional mitochondria.