Mitochondrial defect in muscle precedes neuromuscular junction degeneration and motor neuron death in CHCHD10 mouse

Genin EC, Madji Hounoum B, Bannwarth S, Fragaki K, Lacas-Gervais S, Mauri-Crouzet A, Lespinasse F, Neveu J, Ropert B, Augé G, Cochaud C, Lefebvre-Omar C, Bigou S, Chiot A, Mochel F, Boillée S, Lobsiger CS, Bohl D, Ricci JE, Paquis-Flucklinger V

Acta Neuropathol. 2019 07;138(1):123-145


PMID: 30874923

Recently, we provided genetic basis showing that mitochondrial dysfunction can trigger motor neuron degeneration, through identification of CHCHD10 encoding a mitochondrial protein. We reported patients, carrying the p.Ser59Leu heterozygous mutation in CHCHD10, from a large family with a mitochondrial myopathy associated with motor neuron disease (MND). Rapidly, our group and others reported CHCHD10 mutations in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), frontotemporal dementia-ALS and other neurodegenerative diseases. Here, we generated knock-in (KI) mice, carrying the p.Ser59Leu mutation, that mimic the mitochondrial myopathy with mtDNA instability displayed by the patients from our original family. Before 14 months of age, all KI mice developed a fatal mitochondrial cardiomyopathy associated with enhanced mitophagy. CHCHD10 mice also displayed neuromuscular junction (NMJ) and motor neuron degeneration with hyper-fragmentation of the motor end plate and moderate but significant motor neuron loss in lumbar spinal cord at the end stage of the disease. At this stage, we observed TDP-43 cytoplasmic aggregates in spinal neurons. We also showed that motor neurons differentiated from human iPSC carrying the p.Ser59Leu mutation were much more sensitive to Staurosporine or glutamate-induced caspase activation than control cells. These data confirm that mitochondrial deficiency associated with CHCHD10 mutations can be at the origin of MND. CHCHD10 is highly expressed in the NMJ post-synaptic part. Importantly, the fragmentation of the motor end plate was associated with abnormal CHCHD10 expression that was also observed closed to NMJs which were morphologically normal. Furthermore, we found OXPHOS deficiency in muscle of CHCHD10 mice at 3 months of age in the absence of neuron loss in spinal cord. Our data show that the pathological effects of the p.Ser59Leu mutation target muscle prior to NMJ and motor neurons. They likely lead to OXPHOS deficiency, loss of cristae junctions and destabilization of internal membrane structure within mitochondria at motor end plate of NMJ, impairing neurotransmission. These data are in favor with a key role for muscle in MND associated with CHCHD10 mutations.