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    Uncoupling proteins (UCPs) are mitochondrial inner membrane proteins that function to dissipate proton motive force and mitochondrial membrane potential. One UCP has been identified in Caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegans), namely UCP-4. In this study, we examined its expression and localization using a GFP marker in C. elegans. ucp-4 was expressed throughout the body from early embryo to aged adult and UCP-4 was localized in the mitochondria. It is known that increased mitochondrial membrane protential leads to a reactive oxygen species (ROS) increase, which is associated with age-related diseases, including neurodegenerative diseases in humans. A ucp-4 mutant showed increased mitochondrial membrane protential in association with increased neuronal defects during aging, and the neurons of ucp-4 overexpressing animals showed decreased neuronal defects during aging. These results suggest that UCP-4 may be involved in neuroprotection during aging via relieving mitochondrial membrane protential. We also investigated the relationship between UCP-4 and innate immunity because increased ROS can affect innate immunity. ucp-4 mutant displayed increased resistance to the pathogen Staphylococcus aureus compared to wild type. The enhanced immunity in the ucp-4 mutant could be related to increased mitochondrial membrane protential, presumably followed by increased ROS. In summary, UCP-4 might have an important role in neuronal aging and innate immune responses through mediating mitochondrial membrane protential.

    Citation

    Injeong Cho, Gyu Jin Hwang, Jeong Hoon Cho. Uncoupling Protein, UCP-4 May Be Involved in Neuronal Defects During Aging and Resistance to Pathogens in Caenorhabditis elegans. Molecules and cells. 2016 Sep;39(9):680-6

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    PMID: 27646689

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