Barel O, Christine V Malicdan M, Ben-Zeev B, Kandel J, Pri-Chen H, Stephen J, Castro IG, Metz J, Atawa O, Moshkovitz S, Ganelin E, Barshack I, Polak-Charcon S, Nass D, Marek-Yagel D, Amariglio N, Shalva N, Vilboux T, Ferreira C, Pode-Shakked B, Heimer G, Hoffmann C, Yardeni T, Nissenkorn A, Avivi C, Eyal E, Kol N, Glick Saar E, Wallace DC, Gahl WA, Rechavi G, Schrader M, Eckmann DM, Anikster Y. Deleterious variants in TRAK1 disrupt mitochondrial movement and cause fatal encephalopathy. Brain. 2017 Mar 1;140(3):568-581.
Cellular distribution and dynamics of mitochondria are regulated by several motor proteins and a microtubule network. In neurons, mitochondrial trafficking is crucial because of high energy needs and calcium ion buffering along axons to synapses during neurotransmission. The trafficking kinesin proteins (TRAKs) are well characterized for their role in lysosomal and mitochondrial trafficking in cells, especially neurons. Using whole exome sequencing, we identified homozygous truncating variants in TRAK1 (NM_001042646:c.287-2A > C), in six lethal encephalopathic patients from three unrelated families. The pathogenic variant results in aberrant splicing and significantly reduced gene expression at the RNA and protein levels. In comparison with normal cells, TRAK1-deficient fibroblasts showed irregular mitochondrial distribution, altered mitochondrial motility, reduced mitochondrial membrane potential, and diminished mitochondrial respiration. This study confirms the role of TRAK1 in mitochondrial dynamics and constitutes the first report of this gene in association with a severe neurodevelopmental disorder.
Loss O, Stephenson FA. Developmental changes in trak-mediated mitochondrial transport in neurons. Mol Cell Neurosci. 2017 Apr;80:134-147.
Previous studies established that the kinesin adaptor proteins, TRAK1 and TRAK2, play an important role in mitochondrial transport in neurons. They link mitochondria to kinesin motor proteins via a TRAK acceptor protein in the mitochondrial outer membrane, the Rho GTPase, Miro. TRAKs also associate with enzyme, O-linked N-acetylglucosamine transferase (OGT), to form a quaternary, mitochondrial trafficking complex. A recent report suggested that TRAK1 preferentially controls mitochondrial transport in axons of hippocampal neurons whereas TRAK2 controls mitochondrial transport in dendrites. However, it is not clear whether the function of any of these proteins is exclusive to axons or dendrites and if their mechanisms of action are conserved between different neuronal populations and also, during maturation. Here, a comparative study was carried out into TRAK-mediated mitochondrial mobility in axons and dendrites of hippocampal and cortical neurons during maturation in vitro using a shRNA gene knockdown approach. It was found that in mature hippocampal and cortical neurons, TRAK1 predominantly mediates axonal mitochondrial transport whereas dendritic transport is mediated via TRAK2. In young, maturing neurons, TRAK1 and TRAK2 contribute similarly in mitochondrial transport in both axons and dendrites in both neuronal types. These findings demonstrate maturation regulation of mitochondrial transport which is conserved between at least two distinct neuronal subtypes.
Loss O, Stephenson FA. Localization of the kinesin adaptor proteins trafficking kinesin proteins 1 and 2 in primary cultures of hippocampal pyramidal and cortical neurons. J Neurosci Res. 2015 Jul;93(7):1056-66.
Neuronal function requires regulated anterograde and retrograde trafficking of mitochondria along microtubules by using the molecular motors kinesin and dynein. Previous work has established that trafficking kinesin proteins (TRAKs),TRAK1 and TRAK2, are kinesin adaptor proteins that link mitochondria to kinesin motor proteins via an acceptor protein in the mitochondrial outer membrane, etc. the Rho GTPase Miro. Recent studies have shown that TRAK1 preferentially controls mitochondrial transport in axons of hippocampal neurons by virtue of its binding to both kinesin and dynein motor proteins, whereas TRAK2 controls mitochondrial transport in dendrites resulting from its binding to dynein. This study further investigates the subcellular localization of TRAK1 and TRAK2 in primary cultures of hippocampal and cortical neurons by using both commercial antibodies and anti-TRAK1 and anti-TRAK2 antibodies raised in our own laboratory (in-house). Whereas TRAK1 was prevalently localized in axons of hippocampal and cortical neurons, TRAK2 was more prevalent in dendrites of hippocampal neurons. In cortical neurons, TRAK2 was equally distributed between axons and dendrites. Some qualitative differences were observed between commercial and in-house-generated antibody immunostaining.
Schwarz TL. Mitochondrial trafficking in neurons. Cold Spring Harb Perspect Biol. 2013 Jun 1;5(6).
Neurons, perhaps more than any other cell type, depend on mitochondrial trafficking for their survival. Recent studies have elucidated a motor/adaptor complex on the mitochondrial surface that is shared between neurons and other animal cells. In addition to kinesin and dynein, this complex contains the proteins Miro (also called RhoT1/2) and milton (also called TRAK1/2) and is responsible for much, although not necessarily all, mitochondrial movement. Elucidation of the complex has permitted inroads for understanding how this movement is regulated by a variety of intracellular signals, although many mysteries remain. Regulating mitochondrial movement can match energy demand to energy supply throughout the extraordinary architecture of these cells and can control the clearance and replenishing of mitochondria in the periphery. Because the extended axons of neurons contain uniformly polarized microtubules, they have been useful for studying mitochondrial motility in conjunction with biochemical assays in many cell types.