1932

Abstract

According to the endosymbiotic theory, most of the DNA of the original bacterial endosymbiont has been lost or transferred to the nucleus, leaving a much smaller (∼16 kb in mammals), circular molecule that is the present-day mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA). The ability of mtDNA to escape mitochondria and integrate into the nuclear genome was discovered in budding yeast, along with genes that regulate this process. Mitochondria have emerged as key regulators of innate immunity, and it is now recognized that mtDNA released into the cytoplasm, outside of the cell, or into circulation activates multiple innate immune signaling pathways. Here, we first review the mechanisms through which mtDNA is released into the cytoplasm, including several inducible mitochondrial pores and defective mitophagy or autophagy. Next, we cover how the different forms of released mtDNA activate specific innate immune nucleic acid sensors and inflammasomes. Finally, we discuss how intracellular and extracellular mtDNA release, including circulating cell-free mtDNA that promotes systemic inflammation, are implicated in human diseases, bacterial and viral infections, senescence and aging.

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2023-06-20
2024-06-25
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