Dr. Paul Chapple’s group have just published a paper in the scientific journal Human Molecular Genetics that further investigated what is wrong with mitochondria in cells that lack the ARSACS protein sacsin. The research identifies that mitochondria in cells from ARSACS patients have reduced activity of a metabolic pathway that uses enzymes to oxidise nutrients and produce cellular energy. They also express higher levels of genes involved in pathways that deal with mitochondrial damage. A possible mechanism for this decline in mitochondrial health is that a protein called Drp1, which is responsible for the separation of damaged parts of mitochondria from the mitochondrial network, is less efficiently recruited to mitochondria in cells lacking functional sacsin. A reduction in Drp1 mediated fission compromises mitochondrial health in autosomal recessive spastic ataxia of Charlevoix Saguenay.

 Teisha Y. Bradshaw; Lisa E.L. Romano; Emma J. Duncan; Suran Nethisinghe; Rosella Abeti; Gregory J. Michael ; Paola Giunti; Sascha Vermeer; J. Paul Chapple. Human Molecular Genetics 2016; doi: 10.1093/hmg/ddw173