Biochim Biophys Acta Gen Subj. 2023 May 13:130374. doi: 10.1016/j.bbagen.2023.130374. Online ahead of print.
Mitochondrial dynamics is a morphological balance between fragmented and elongated shapes, reflecting mitochondrial metabolic status, cellular damage, and mitochondrial dysfunction. The anaphylatoxin C5a derived from complement component 5 cleavage, enhances cellular responses involved in pathological stimulation, innate immune responses, and host defense. However, the specific response of C5a and its receptor, C5a receptor (C5aR), in mitochondria is unclear. Here, we tested whether the C5a/C5aR signaling axis affects mitochondrial morphology in human-derived retinal pigment epithelial cell monolayers (ARPE-19). C5aR activation with the C5a polypeptide-induced mitochondrial elongation. In contrast, oxidatively stressed cells (H2O2) responded to C5a with an enhancement of mitochondrial fragmentation and an increase in the number of pyknotic nuclei. C5a/C5aR signaling increased the expression of mitochondrial fusion-related protein, mitofusin-1 (MFN1) and – 2 (MFN2), as well as enhanced optic atrophy-1 (Opa1) cleavage, which are required for mitochondrial fusion events, whereas the mitochondrial fission protein, dynamin-related protein-1 (Drp1), and mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK)-dependent extracellular signal-regulated protein kinase (Erk1/2) phosphorylation were not affected. Moreover, C5aR activation increased the frequency of endoplasmic reticulum (ER)-mitochondria contacts. Finally, oxidative stress induced in a single cell within an RPE monolayer (488 nm blue laser spot stimulation) induced a bystander effect of mitochondrial fragmentation in adjacent surrounding cells only in C5a-treated monolayers. These results suggest that C5a/C5aR signaling produced an intermediate state, characterized by increased mitochondrial fusion and ER-mitochondrial contacts, that sensitizes cells to oxidative stress, leading to mitochondrial fragmentation and cell death.