Enhanced Mitochondria-SR Tethering Triggers Adaptive Cardiac Muscle Remodeling

Zuzana Nichtová, Celia Fernandez-Sanz, Sergio De La Fuente, Yuexing Yuan, Stephen Hurst, Sebastian Lanvermann, Hui Ying Tsai, David Weaver, Ariele Baggett, Christopher Thompson, Cedric Bouchet-Marquis, Péter Várnai, Erin L. Seifert, Gerald W. Dorn, Shey Shing Sheu, György Csordás

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background: Cardiac contractile function requires high energy from mitochondria, and Ca2+from the sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR). Via local Ca2+transfer at close mitochondria-SR contacts, cardiac excitation feedforward regulates mitochondrial ATP production to match surges in demand (excitation-bioenergetics coupling). However, pathological stresses may cause mitochondrial Ca2+overload, excessive reactive oxygen species production and permeability transition, risking homeostatic collapse and myocyte loss. Excitation-bioenergetics coupling involves mitochondria-SR tethers but the role of tethering in cardiac physiology/pathology is debated. Endogenous tether proteins are multifunctional; therefore, nonselective targets to scrutinize interorganelle linkage. Here, we assessed the physiological/pathological relevance of selective chronic enhancement of cardiac mitochondria-SR tethering. Methods: We introduced to mice a cardiac muscle-specific engineered tether (linker) transgene with a fluorescent protein core and deployed 2D/3D electron microscopy, biochemical approaches, fluorescence imaging, in vivo and ex vivo cardiac performance monitoring and stress challenges to characterize the linker phenotype. Results: Expressed in the mature cardiomyocytes, the linker expanded and tightened individual mitochondria-junctional SR contacts; but also evoked a marked remodeling with large dense mitochondrial clusters that excluded dyads. Yet, excitation-bioenergetics coupling remained well-preserved, likely due to more longitudinal mitochondria-dyad contacts and nanotunnelling between mitochondria exposed to junctional SR and those sealed away from junctional SR. Remarkably, the linker decreased female vulnerability to acute massive β-adrenergic stress. It also reduced myocyte death and mitochondrial calcium-overload-associated myocardial impairment in ex vivo ischemia/reperfusion injury. Conclusions: We propose that mitochondria-SR/endoplasmic reticulum contacts operate at a structural optimum. Although acute changes in tethering may cause dysfunction, upon chronic enhancement of contacts from early life, adaptive remodeling of the organelles shifts the system to a new, stable structural optimum. This remodeling balances the individually enhanced mitochondrion-junctional SR crosstalk and excitation-bioenergetics coupling, by increasing the connected mitochondrial pool and, presumably, Ca2+/reactive oxygen species capacity, which then improves the resilience to stresses associated with dysregulated hyperactive Ca2+signaling.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E171-E187
JournalCirculation research
Issue number11
StatePublished - May 26 2023


  • ischemia
  • mitochondria
  • muscle cells
  • myocardium
  • reperfusion
  • sarcoplasmic reticulum
  • transgenes


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