Insensitivity of cultured rat cortical neurons to mitochondrial DNA synthesis inhibitors. Evidence for a slow turnover of mitochondrial DNA

Guang Jian Wang, Louise M. Nutter, Stanley A Thayer

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17 Scopus citations

Abstract

Mitochondrial dysfunction is a major contributor to aging and neurodegeneration. Defects in mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) have been identified in several neuromuscular diseases. Even though there is a high rate of phenotypic expression of mtDNA mutations in the central nervous system and replication of DNA introduces errors, little is known about the replicative activity of mtDNA in the brain. In this study, we investigated the sensitivity of cultured rat cortical neurons to mtDNA synthesis inhibitors as a means to assess the turnover rate of mtDNA. Four day treatment with dideoxycytidine (ddC) (0.2 μM) or ethidium bromide (EtB) (0.25 μg/mL) reduced the mtDNA content approximately 80% in the human lymphoblastoid cell line, GEM. Concentrations of ddC ranging from 0.2 to 10 μM did not reduce mtDNA content in primary cultures of rat cortical neurons. Similarly, treatment with EtB (0.1, 0.25, and 0.5 μg/mL) did not affect significantly neuronal mtDNA. EtB (0.25 μg/mL) was effective in reducing mtDNA content in the undifferentiated embryonic carcinoma cell line, P 19. However, once P 19 cells were differentiated into a neuronal phenotype, they became insensitive to inhibition of mtDNA synthesis by EtB. Thus, cultured rat cortical neurons were less sensitive to mtDNA synthesis inhibitors than cell lines, suggesting that the turnover of mtDNA in central neurons is very slow. This may protect central neurons from accumulating mutations during the replication of mtDNA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)181-187
Number of pages7
JournalBiochemical Pharmacology
Volume54
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1 1997

Keywords

  • Cortical neurons
  • DNA replication
  • DNA turnover
  • Dideoxycytidine
  • Ethidium bromide
  • Mitochondrion

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