Genes (Basel). 2023 Feb 24;14(3):566. doi: 10.3390/genes14030566.
The progressive degeneration of granular corneal dystrophy type 2 (GCD2) corneal fibroblasts is associated with altered mitochondrial function, but the underlying mechanisms are incompletely understood. We investigated whether an imbalance of mitochondrial dynamics contributes to mitochondrial dysfunction of GCD2 corneal fibroblasts. Transmission electron microscopy revealed several small, structurally abnormal mitochondria with altered cristae morphology in GCD2 corneal fibroblasts. Confocal microscopy showed enhanced mitochondrial fission and fragmented mitochondrial tubular networks. Western blotting revealed higher levels of MFN1, MFN2, and pDRP1 and decreased levels of OPA1 and FIS1 in GCD2. OPA1 reduction by short hairpin RNA (shRNA) resulted in fragmented mitochondrial tubular networks and increased susceptibility to mitochondrial stress-induced apoptosis. A decrease in the mitochondrial biogenesis-related transcription factors NRF1 and PGC1α was observed, while there was an increase in the mitochondrial membrane proteins TOM20 and TIM23. Additionally, reduced levels of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) were exhibited in GCD2 corneal fibroblasts. These observations suggest that altered mitochondrial fission/fusion and biogenesis are the critical molecular mechanisms that cause mitochondrial dysfunction contributing to the degeneration of GCD2 corneal fibroblasts.