Kinetics and specificity of paternal mitochondrial elimination in Caenorhabditis elegans

Yang Wang, Yi Zhang, Lianwan Chen, Qian Liang, Xiao Ming Yin, Long Miao, Byung Ho Kang, DIng Xue

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21 Scopus citations


In most eukaryotes, mitochondria are inherited maternally. The autophagy process is critical for paternal mitochondrial elimination (PME) in Caenorhabditis elegans, but how paternal mitochondria, but not maternal mitochondria, are selectively targeted for degradation is poorly understood. Here we report that mitochondrial dynamics have a profound effect on PME. A defect in fission of paternal mitochondria delays PME, whereas a defect in fusion of paternal mitochondria accelerates PME. Surprisingly, a defect in maternal mitochondrial fusion delays PME, which is reversed by a fission defect in maternal mitochondria or by increasing maternal mitochondrial membrane potential using oligomycin. Electron microscopy and tomography analyses reveal that a proportion of maternal mitochondria are compromised when they fail to fuse normally, leading to their competition for the autophagy machinery with damaged paternal mitochondria and delayed PME. Our study indicates that mitochondrial dynamics play a critical role in regulating both the kinetics and the specificity of PME.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number12569
JournalNature communications
StatePublished - Sep 1 2016


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)

Cite this

Wang, Y., Zhang, Y., Chen, L., Liang, Q., Yin, X. M., Miao, L., Kang, B. H., & Xue, DI. (2016). Kinetics and specificity of paternal mitochondrial elimination in Caenorhabditis elegans. Nature communications, 7, [12569].