A human mitofusin 2 mutation can cause mitophagic cardiomyopathy

Antonietta Franco, Jiajia Li, Daniel P. Kelly, Ray E. Hershberger, Ali J. Marian, Renate M. Lewis, Moshi Song, Xiawei Dang, Alina D. Schmidt, Mary E. Mathyer, John R. Edwards, Cristina de Guzman Strong, Gerald W. Dorn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Cardiac muscle has the highest mitochondrial density of any human tissue, but mito-chondrial dysfunction is not a recognized cause of isolated cardiomyopathy. Here, we determined that the rare mitofusin (MFN) 2 R400Q mutation is 15–20× over-represented in clinical cardiomyop-athy, whereas this specific mutation is not reported as a cause of MFN2 mutant-induced peripheral neuropathy, Charcot–Marie–Tooth disease type 2A (CMT2A). Accordingly, we interrogated the enzymatic, biophysical, and functional characteristics of MFN2 Q400 versus wild-type and CMT2A-causing MFN2 mutants. All MFN2 mutants had impaired mitochondrial fusion, the canonical MFN2 function. Compared to MFN2 T105M that lacked catalytic GTPase activity and exhibited normal activation-induced changes in conformation, MFN2 R400Q and M376A had normal GTPase activity with impaired conformational shifting. MFN2 R400Q did not suppress mitochondrial motility, provoke mitochondrial depolarization, or dominantly suppress mitochondrial respiration like MFN2 T105M. By contrast to MFN2 T105M and M376A, MFN2 R400Q was uniquely defective in recruiting Parkin to mitochondria. CRISPR editing of the R400Q mutation into the mouse Mfn2 gene induced perinatal cardiomyopathy with no other organ involvement; knock-in of Mfn2 T105M or M376V did not affect the heart. RNA sequencing and metabolomics of cardiomyopathic Mfn2 Q/Q400 hearts revealed signature abnormalities recapitulating experimental mitophagic cardiomyopathy. Indeed, cultured cardiomyoblasts and in vivo cardiomyocytes expressing MFN2 Q400 had mitophagy defects with increased sensitivity to doxorubicin. MFN2 R400Q is the first known natural mitophagy-defective MFN2 mutant. Its unique profile of dysfunction evokes mitophagic cardiomyopathy, suggesting a mechanism for enrichment in clinical cardiomyopathy. Editor's evaluation The study presents a valuable finding on the link between mitofusin function (MFN2) and Parkin-mediated mitophagy, and that the combination of mitophagy and mitochondrial fusion defects is the basis of cardiomyopathy. The data based on the in vivo models are compelling and provide clinically relevant associations. This finding is important for understanding mitochondrial defects as a basis of heart pathologies.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere84235
StatePublished - 2023


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