Suppression of polyglutamine-induced cytotoxicity in Saccharomyces cerevisiae by enhancement of mitochondrial biogenesis

Alejandro Ocampo, Andrea Zambrano, Antoni Barrientos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Alterations in mitochondrial metabolism have been associated with age-related neurodegenerative disorders. This is seen in diseases caused by misfolding of proteins with expanded polyglutamine (polyQ) tracts, such as Huntington's disease. Although evidence of mitochondrial impairment has been extensively documented in patients and disease models, the mechanisms involved and their relevance to the initiation of polyQ cytotoxicity and development of clinical manifestations remain controversial. We report that in yeast models of polyQ cytotoxicity, wild-type and mutant polyQ domains might associate early with the outer mitochondrial membrane. The association of mutant domains with mitochondrial membranes could contribute to induce significant changes in mitochondrial physiology, ultimately compromising the cell's ability to respire. The respiratory defect can be fully prevented by enhancing mitochondrial biogenesis by overexpression of Hap4p, the catalytic subunit of the transcriptional activator Hap2/3/4/5p complex, the master regulator of the expression of many nuclear genes encoding mitochondrial proteins in yeast. Protecting cellular respiratory capacity in this way ameliorates the effect of expanded polyQ on cellular fitness. We conclude that mitochondrial dysfunction is an important contributor to polyQ cytotoxicity. Our results suggest that therapeutic approaches enhancing mitochondrial biogenesis could reduce polyQ toxicity and delay the development of clinical symptoms in patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1431-1441
Number of pages11
JournalFASEB Journal
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2010


  • HAP4
  • Mitochondrial metabolism
  • Yeast model

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Biotechnology
  • Genetics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Medicine(all)


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