Video1_Analysis of mitochondrial dynamics and function in the retinal pigment epithelium by high-speed high-resolution live imaging.MP4
Mitochondrial dysfunction is strongly implicated in neurodegenerative diseases including age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which causes irreversible blindness in over 50 million older adults worldwide. A key site of insult in AMD is the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE), a monolayer of postmitotic polarized cells that performs essential functions for photoreceptor health and vision. Recent studies from our group and others have identified several features of mitochondrial dysfunction in AMD including mitochondrial fragmentation and bioenergetic defects. While these studies provide valuable insight at fixed points in time, high-resolution, high-speed live imaging is essential for following mitochondrial injury in real time and identifying disease mechanisms. Here, we demonstrate the advantages of live imaging to investigate RPE mitochondrial dynamics in cell-based and mouse models. We show that mitochondria in the RPE form extensive networks that are destroyed by fixation and discuss important live imaging considerations that can interfere with accurate evaluation of mitochondrial integrity such as RPE differentiation status and acquisition parameters. Our data demonstrate that RPE mitochondria show localized heterogeneities in membrane potential and ATP production that could reflect focal changes in metabolism and oxidative stress. Contacts between the mitochondria and organelles such as the ER and lysosomes mediate calcium flux and mitochondrial fission. Live imaging of mouse RPE flatmounts revealed a striking loss of mitochondrial integrity in albino mouse RPE compared to pigmented mice that could have significant functional consequences for cellular metabolism. Our studies lay a framework to guide experimental design and selection of model systems for evaluating mitochondrial health and function in the RPE.