Oxidative damage to the TCA cycle enzyme MDH1 dysregulates bioenergetic enzymatic activity in the aged murine brain


Aging can have profound effects on the mammalian brain leading to neurodegeneration and cognitive impairment. The brain has exceptionally high-energy requirements and is particularly susceptible to damage within its bioenergetic pathways. Here we asked how the bioenergetic proteome of the murine brain changed with age and how this might affect brain function. Using label free LC-MS/MS proteomics for the discovery phase and quantitative multiple reaction monitoring LC-MRM-MS/MS for the validation phase we found dysregulated expression of multiple components of the tricarboxylic acid cycle, which is key for mitochondrial energy production, including SULA2, IDH1, IDH2, SDHB, PDHB, MDH1, FH1 and NDUFS3, in old murine brains. We also saw that the oxidoreductases, thioredoxin (Trx) and glutaredoxin (Grx) were significantly downregulated in the old mouse brain, and showed through MS that this correlated with the accumulation of trioxidation in the key metabolic enzyme MDH1 at Cys137. 3D modeling of MDH1 predicted that the damaged sites were located at the protein active zone, and enzymatic kinetic analysis confirmed that MDH1 function was significantly reduced in the old mouse brain. These findings identify the tricarboxylic acid cycle as a key target of degenerative protein modifications with deleterious effects on the aging brain’s bioenergetic function.