Federico II University of Naples, School of Medicine, Division of Pharmacology, Department of Neuroscience, Reproductive sciences and Dentistry, Naples, ITALY

Wednesday 18 September 2019 | 12:00 noon – ICGEB Trieste, ITALY

Molecular mechanisms regulating mitochondrial function and dysfunction in Neurological Disorders

Host: E. Buratti

Mitochondria are intracellular membrane enclosed organelles found in most eukaryotic cells which play important roles in several cellular functions such as energy production, oxidative metabolism and calcium cycling. However, apart to provide energy and biomolecules for the cell, they contribute to pathways of cell stress, immune responses, intra- and intercellular signaling and cell-cycle control. The mitochondrial influx and efflux calcium pathways play a relevant role in cytosolic and mitochondrial calcium homeostasis and contribute to the regulation of mitochondrial functions. Furthermore, mitochondria are dynamic organelles that actively divide, fuse with one another, and undergo to regulated turnover, all of which are important for the maintenance of mitochondrial function and quality control. According to a widespread concept, neurons are critically dependent on mitochondrial integrity based on their specific morphological, biochemical, and physiological features. Indeed, neurons have high rates of metabolic activity and need to respond promptly to activity-dependent fluctuations in bioenergetics demand. The dimensions and polarity of neurons require efficient transport of mitochondria to hot spots of energy consumption, such as presynaptic and postsynaptic sites. Consequently, alterations in any of these mitochondrial features can potentially cause disease and contribute to the pathogenesis of neurodegenerative diseases. My presentation will focus on the discussion of the molecular mechanisms involved in the regulation of mitochondrial function in neurons and on their contribution to the pathogenesis of neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease and cerebral ischemia. Particular emphasis will be devoted to the description of the results obtained in my Lab related to the identification of new mitochondrial proteins involved in the regulation of mitochondrial calcium dynamics and mitochondrial morphology.