Mitochondria are vital organelles that coordinate cellular energy homeostasis and have important roles in cell death. Therefore, the removal of damaged or excessive mitochondria is critical for maintaining proper cellular function. The PINK1-Parkin pathway removes acutely damaged mitochondria through a well-characterized mitophagy pathway, but basal mitochondrial turnover occurs via distinct and less well-understood mechanisms. Here we report that the MEKK3-MEK5-ERK5 kinase cascade is required for mitochondrial degradation in the absence of exogenous damage. We demonstrate that genetic or pharmacological inhibition of the MEKK3-MEK5-ERK5 pathway increases mitochondrial content by reducing lysosome-mediated degradation of mitochondria under basal conditions. We show that the MEKK3-MEK5-ERK5 pathway plays a selective role in basal mitochondrial degradation but is not required for non-selective bulk autophagy, damage-induced mitophagy, or restraint of mitochondrial biogenesis. This illuminates the MEKK3-MEK5-ERK5 pathway as a positive regulator of mitochondrial degradation that acts independently of exogenous mitochondrial stressors.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
- Cell Biology
- Cancer Research