Women's reproductive cessation is the earliest sign of human aging and is caused by decreasing oocyte quality. Similarly, C. elegans' reproduction declines in mid-adulthood and is caused by oocyte quality decline. Aberrant mitochondrial morphology is a hallmark of age-related dysfunction, but the role of mitochondrial morphology and dynamics in reproductive aging is unclear. We examined the requirements for mitochondrial fusion and fission in oocytes of both wild-type worms and the long-lived, long-reproducing insulin-like receptor mutant daf-2. We find that normal reproduction requires both fusion and fission, but that daf- 2 mutants utilize a shift towards fission, but not fusion, to extend their reproductive span and oocyte health. daf-2 mutant oocytes' mitochondria are punctate (fissioned) and this morphology is primed for mitophagy, as loss of the mitophagy regulator PINK-1 shortens daf-2's reproductive span. daf-2 mutants maintain oocyte mitochondria quality with age at least in part through a shift toward punctate mitochondrial morphology and subsequent mitophagy. Supporting this model, Urolithin A, a metabolite that promotes mitophagy, extends reproductive span in wild-type mothers-even in mid-reproduction-by maintaining youthful oocytes with age. Our data suggest that promotion of mitophagy may be an effective strategy to maintain oocyte health with age.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Molecular Biology
- Cancer Research