Dr Steven Zuryn
Queensland Brain Institute, University of Queensland

Title: Mitochondrial genome mosaicism and resistance to damage


Mitochondria contain multiple copies of their own genome (mtDNAs) that encode proteins important for energy generation. Mutations in mtDNAs cause severe metabolic diseases that are heritable. These mutations can also accumulate as we age. We have studied the distribution of mtDNAs in C. elegans cells, finding that mutations evolve in stereotyped mosaic patterns between different tissues. This distribution is determined by the activity of a quality control pathway called mitochondrial autophagy (mitophagy), driven by the PINK1-parkin signalling axis. PINK1 and parkin genes are mutated in early-onset Parkinson’s disease implying links between mtDNA mutations and neurodegeneration. Indeed, we find that mutations in PINK1/parkin enhance mtDNA mutation levels in neurons and that proteotoxic species associated with Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s diseases can inhibit mitophagy resulting in increased mtDNA mutation levels in the nervous system. Counteracting the effect of mtDNA mutations, we discovered a new role for the conserved factor ATFS-1/Atf5, which when localised to mitochondria, promotes the repair of mtDNAs and shields cellular function from targeted and age-associated mtDNA damage.

About Neuroscience Seminars

Neuroscience seminars at the QBI play a major role in the advancement of neuroscience in the Asia-Pacific region. The primary goal of these seminars is to promote excellence in neuroscience through the exchange of ideas, establishing new collaborations and augmenting partnerships already in place.

Seminars in the QBI Auditorium on Level 7 are held on Wednesdays at 12-1pm, which are sometimes simulcast on Zoom (with approval from the speaker). We also occassionally hold seminars from international speakers via Zoom. The days and times of these seminars will vary depending on the time zone of the speaker. Please see each seminar listed below for details. 


Neuroscience Seminars archive 2005-2018