Mitochondrial ROS cause motor deficits induced by synaptic inactivity: Implications for synapse pruning.


Developmental synapse pruning refines burgeoning connectomes. The basic mechanisms of mitochondrial reactive oxygen species (ROS) production suggest they select inactive synapses for pruning: whether they do so is unknown. To begin to unravel whether mitochondrial ROS regulate pruning, we made the local consequences of neuromuscular junction (NMJ) pruning detectable as motor deficits by using disparate exogenous and endogenous models to induce synaptic inactivity en masse in developing Xenopus laevis tadpoles. We resolved whether: (1) synaptic inactivity increases mitochondrial ROS; and (2) chemically heterogeneous antioxidants rescue synaptic inactivity induced motor deficits. Regardless of whether it was achieved with muscle (α-bungarotoxin), nerve (α-latrotoxin) targeted neurotoxins or an endogenous pruning cue (SPARC), synaptic inactivity increased mitochondrial ROS in vivo. The manganese porphyrins MnTE-2-PyP5+ and/or MnTnBuOE-2-PyP5+ blocked mitochondrial ROS to significantly reduce neurotoxin and endogenous pruning cue induced motor deficits. Selectively inducing mitochondrial ROS-using mitochondria-targeted Paraquat (MitoPQ)-recapitulated synaptic inactivity induced motor deficits; which were significantly reduced by blocking mitochondrial ROS with MnTnBuOE-2-PyP5+. We unveil mitochondrial ROS as synaptic activity sentinels that regulate the phenotypical consequences of forced synaptic inactivity at the NMJ. Our novel results are relevant to pruning because synaptic inactivity is one of its defining features.





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Publication Info

Sidlauskaite, Eva, Jack W Gibson, Ian L Megson, Philip D Whitfield, Artak Tovmasyan, Ines Batinic-Haberle, Michael P Murphy, Peter R Moult, et al. (2018). Mitochondrial ROS cause motor deficits induced by synaptic inactivity: Implications for synapse pruning. Redox biology, 16. pp. 344–351. 10.1016/j.redox.2018.03.012 Retrieved from

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Ines Batinic-Haberle

Professor Emeritus of Radiation Oncology

            A major interest of mine has been in the design and synthesis of Mn porphyrin(MnP)-based powerful catalytic antioxidants which helped establish structure-activity relationship (SAR). It relates the redox property of metalloporphyrins to their ability to remove superoxide. SAR has facilitated the design of redox-active therapeutics and served as a tool for mechanistic considerations. Importantly SAR parallels the magnitude of the therapeutic potential of SOD mimics and is valid for all classes of redox-active compounds. Two lead Mn porphyrins are already in five Phase II clinical trials (reviewed in Batinic-Haberle et al, Oxid Med Cell Longevity 2021). Recent research suggests immense potential of MnPs in cardiac diseases. MnTE-2-PyP (AEOL10113, BMX-010) prevents and treats cardiac arrhythmia, while MnTnBuOE-2-PyP (BMX-001) fully suppressed the development of aortic sclerosis in mice. The latter result is relevant to the cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. In addition to breast cancer, in collaboration with Angeles Alvarez Secord, MD, MHSc, we have recently shown the anticancer effects of Mn porphyrin/ascorbate in cellular and mouse models of ovarian cancer.

            In parallel with synthetic efforts, I have also been interested in the mechanistic aspects of differential actions of Mn porphyrins in normal vs tumor tissue. In-depth studies of chemistry and biology of the reactions of MnPs with redox-active agents relevant to cancer therapy – ascorbate, chemotherapy and radiation – set ground for understanding the role of thermodynamics and kinetics in the mechanism of action of Mn porphyrins. Mechanistic studies have been revealed in Batinic-Haberle et al, Antioxidant Redox Signal 2018, Batinic-Haberle and Tome, Redox Biology 2019 and Batinic-Haberle et al Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity 2021. My research has resulted in over 230 publications, 18 268 citations and an h-index of 64. For my achievements, I have been awarded the 2021 Discovery Award from the Society for Redox Biology and Medicine, SfRBM.

Additional Training

  • Postdoctoral fellowship with Professor Alvin Crumbliss in the field of Bioinorganic Chemistry, Department of Chemistry, Duke University
  • Postdoctoral fellowship with Professor Irwin Fridovich in the field of Redox Biology, Department of Biochemistry, Duke University School of Medicine

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