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Unique insights into maternal mitochondrial inheritance in mice

Shi-Ming Luo, Zhao-Jia Ge, Zhong-Wei Wang, Zong-Zhe Jiang, Zhen-Bo Wang, Ying-Chun Ouyang, Yi Hou, Heide Schatten and Qing-Yuan Sun
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Vol. 110, No. 32 (August 6, 2013), pp. 13038-13043
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/42712839
Page Count: 6
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Unique insights into maternal mitochondrial inheritance in mice
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Abstract

In animals, mtDNA is always transmitted through the female and this is termed "maternal inheritance." Recently, autophagy was reported to be involved in maternal inheritance by elimination of paternal mitochondria and mtDNA in Caenorhabditis elegans: moreover, by immunofluorescence, P62 and LC3 proteins were also found to colocalize to sperm mitochondria after fertilization in mice. Thus, it has been speculated that autophagy may be an evolutionary conserved mechanism for paternal mitochondrial elimination. However, by using two transgenic mouse strains, one bearing GFP-labeled autophagosomes and the other bearing red fluorescent protein-labeled mitochondria, we demonstrated that autophagy did not participate in the postfertilization elimination of sperm mitochondria in mice. Although P62 and LC3 proteins congregated to sperm mitochondria immediately after fertilization, sperm mitochondria were not engulfed and ultimately degraded in lysosomes until P62 and LC3 proteins disengaged from sperm mitochondria. Instead, sperm mitochondria unevenly distributed in blastomeres during cleavage and persisted in several cells until the mórula stages. Furthermore, by using single sperm mtDNA PCR, we observed that most motile sperm that had reached the oviduct for fertilization had eliminated their mtDNA, leaving only vacuolar mitochondria. However, if sperm with remaining mtDNA entered the zygote, mtDNA was not eliminated and could be detected in newborn mice. Based on these results, we conclude that, in mice, maternal inheritance of mtDNA is not an active process of sperm mitochondrial and mtDNA elimination achieved through autophagy in early embryos, but may be a passive process as a result of prefertilization sperm mtDNA elimination and uneven mitochondrial distribution in embryos.

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