Inhibition of mitochondrial calcium uptake 1 in Drosophila neurons.
The mitochondrial calcium uptake 1 (MICU1) is a regulatory subunit of the mitochondrial calcium uniporter that plays an important role in calcium sensing. It contains two EF-hand domains that are well conserved across diverse species from protozoa to plants and metazoans. The loss of MICU1 function in mammals is attributed to several neurological disorders that involve movement dysfunction. The CG4495 gene in Drosophila melanogaster was identified as a putative homolog of MICU1 in the HomoloGene database of the National Centre for Biotechnology Information (NCBI). In agreement with previous studies that have shown the development of neurological disorders and movement defects in MICU1 loss-of-function organisms, we attempted to identify the function of CG4495/MICU1 in Drosophila neurons. We analyzed survival and locomotor ability of these flies and additionally performed biometric analysis of the Drosophila developing eye. The inducible RNA interference-mediated inhibition of CG4495/MICU1 in the Ddc-Gal4-expressing neurons of Drosophila presented with reduction in survival coupled with a precocious loss of locomotor ability. Since the pro-survival Bcl-2 family genes have been shown to be protective towards mitochondria, and CG4495/MICU1 has a mitochondrial targeting sequence, we attempted to rescue the phenotypes resulting from the inhibition of CG4495/MICU1 by overexpressing Buffy, the sole Bcl-2 homologue in Drosophila. The co-expression of CG4495/MICU1-RNAi along with Buffy resulted in the suppression of the phenotypes induced by the inhibition of CG4495/MICU1. Subsequently, the inhibition of CG4495/MICU1 in the Drosophila developing eye, a neuron-rich organ, resulted in reduced number of ommatidia and a highly fused ommatidial array. These developmental eye defects were rescued by the overexpression of Buffy. Our study suggests an important role for MICU1 in the normal function of neurons in Drosophila.