Mitochondrial dynamics and distribution is critical for their role in bioenergetics and cell survival. We investigated the consequence of altered fission/fusion on mitochondrial function and motility in INS-1E rat clonal β-cells. Adenoviruses were used to induce doxycycline-dependent expression of wild type (WT-Mfn1) or a dominant negative mitofusin 1 mutant (DN-Mfn1). Mitochondrial morphology and motility were analyzed by monitoring mitochondrially-targeted red fluorescent protein. Adenovirus-driven overexpression of WT-Mfn1 elicited severe aggregation of mitochondria, preventing them from reaching peripheral near plasma membrane areas of the cell. Overexpression of DN-Mfn1 resulted in fragmented mitochondria with widespread cytosolic distribution. WT-Mfn1 overexpression impaired mitochondrial function as glucose- and oligomycin-induced mitochondrial hyperpolarization were markedly reduced. Viability of the INS-1E cells, however, was not affected. Mitochondrial motility was significantly reduced in WT-Mfn1 overexpressing cells. Conversely, fragmented mitochondria in DN-Mfn1 overexpressing cells showed more vigorous movement than mitochondria in control cells. Movement of these mitochondria was also less microtubule-dependent. These results suggest that Mfn1-induced hyperfusion leads to mitochondrial dysfunction and hypomotility, which may explain impaired metabolism-secretion coupling in insulin-releasing cells overexpressing Mfn1.
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