Changes in mitochondrial shape and distribution induced by ethacrynic acid and the transient formation of a mitochondrial reticulum
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We have examined the effect of ethacrynic acid on mitochondrial morphology and distribution as well as on cellular toxicity in cultured human fibroblasts, African Green Monkey B-SC-1 kidney cells, and Chinese hamster ovary cells. Treatment of the above cells with 66 microM ethacrynic acid causes no reduction in cell viability after 2 h but is cytotoxic upon prolonged (6-7 days) exposure. Ethacrynic acid treatment for up to 2 h is found to cause novel shape changes and redistribution of mitochondria, as assessed by immunofluorescence and electron microscopy. Early effects include the transient formation of a mitochondrial reticulum involving the majority of mitochondria, and these reticula are aligned along microtubules. At later times within 2 h, mitochondrial distributions become disoriented (show no association with microtubules), and an aggregation and final positioning of mitochondria around the nucleus is observed. Whole mount electron microscopy shows that mitochondria in treated cells increase in length and form junctions, indicating reticula result from mitochondrial fusion. Electron microscopy of sections through ethacrynic acid induced reticula demonstrates structural continuity in mitochondria at branch points and the presence of regular cristae. Staining of endoplasmic reticulum and mitochondria in intact cells with the cyanine dye 3,3'-dihexyloxacarbocyanine iodide provides evidence of concurrent aggregation of endoplasmic reticulum. Rhodamine 123 staining of living cells followed by immunofluorescent labeling of mitochondria in the same cells indicates that all mitochondria retain a transmembrane potential during the drug-induced shape changes and redistributions. The described effects of ethacrynic acid on mitochondrial morphology as well as on cellular toxicity are completely prevented by 0.5 mM dithiothreitol, indicating that ethacrynic acid is acting as a sulfhydryl reagent to produce the observed effects. The above observations also indicate that ethacrynic acid effects on mitochondrial morphology are an early event in the drug-induced cytotoxicity. The generation of varied mitochondrial morphologies by fusion and fission of mitochondria and its modulation by agents such as ethacrynic acid are discussed.
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