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Mitochondria may be transferred from cell to cell in the central nervous system and this process may help defend neurons against injury and disease. But how mitochondria maintain their functionality during the process of release into extracellular space remains unknown. Here, we report that mitochondrial protein O-GlcNAcylation is a critical process to support extracellular mitochondrial functionality. Activation of CD38-cADPR signaling in astrocytes robustly induced protein O-GlcNAcylation in mitochondria, while oxygen-glucose deprivation and reoxygenation showed transient and mild protein modification. Blocking the endoplasmic reticulum - Golgi trafficking with Brefeldin A or slc35B4 siRNA reduced O-GlcNAcylation, and resulted in the secretion of mitochondria with decreased membrane potential and mtDNA. Finally, loss-of-function studies verified that O-GlcNAc-modified mitochondria demonstrated higher levels of neuroprotection after astrocyte-to-neuron mitochondrial transfer. Collectively, these findings suggest that post-translational modification by O-GlcNAc may be required for supporting the functionality and neuroprotective properties of mitochondria released from astrocytes.


Ji-Hyun Park, Yoshihiko Nakamura, Wenlu Li, Gen Hamanaka, Ken Arai, Eng H Lo, Kazuhide Hayakawa. Effects of O-GlcNAcylation on functional mitochondrial transfer from astrocytes. Journal of cerebral blood flow and metabolism : official journal of the International Society of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism. 2021 Jul;41(7):1523-1535

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PMID: 33153373

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