Human brain mitochondrial-nuclear cross-talk is cell-type specific and is perturbed by neurodegeneration
Mitochondrial dysfunction contributes to the pathogenesis of many neurodegenerative diseases as mitochondria are essential to neuronal function. The mitochondrial genome encodes a small number of core respiratory chain proteins, whereas the vast majority of mitochondrial proteins are encoded by the nuclear genome. Here we focus on establishing a profile of nuclear-mitochondrial transcriptional relationships in healthy human central nervous system tissue data, before examining perturbations of
... ese processes in Alzheimer’s disease using transcriptomic data originating from affected human brain tissue. Through cross- central nervous system analysis of mitochondrial-nuclear gene pair relationships, we find that the cell type composition underlies regional variation, and variation is driven at the subcellular level by heterogeneity of nuclear-mitochondrial coordination in post-synaptic regions. We show that nuclear genes causally implicated in sporadic Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease show much stronger relationships with the mitochondrial genome than expected by chance, and that nuclear-mitochondrial relationships are significantly perturbed in Alzheimer’s disease cases, particularly amongst genes involved in synaptic and lysosomal pathways. Finally, we present MitoNuclearCOEXPlorer, a web tool designed to allow users to interrogate and visualise key mitochondrial-nuclear relationships in multi-dimensional brain data. We conclude that mitochondrial-nuclear relationships differ significantly across regions of the healthy brain, which appears to be driven by the functional specialisation of different cell types. We also find that mitochondrial-nuclear co-expression in critical pathways is disrupted in Alzheimer’s disease, potentially implicating the regulation of energy balance and removal of dysfunctional mitochondria in the etiology or progression of the disease and making the case for the relevance of bi-genomic co-ordination in the pathogenesis of neurodegenerative diseases.