Mitofusins (MFNs) promote fusion-mediated mitochondrial content exchange and subcellular trafficking. Mutations in Mfn2 cause neurodegenerative Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease type 2A (CMT2A).We showed that MFN2 activity can be determined by Met376 and His380 interactions with Asp725 and Leu727 and controlled by PINK1 kinase-mediated phosphorylation of adjacent MFN2 Ser378. Small-molecule mimics of the peptide-peptide interface of MFN2 disrupted this interaction, allosterically activating MFN2 and promoting mitochondrial fusion. These first-in-class mitofusin agonists overcame dominant mitochondrial defects provoked in cultured neurons by CMT2A mutants MFN2 Arg94→Gln94 and MFN2 Thr105→Met105, as demonstrated by amelioration of mitochondrial dysmotility, fragmentation, depolarization, and clumping. A mitofusin agonist normalized axonal mitochondrial trafficking within sciatic nerves of MFN2 Thr105→Met105 mice, promising a therapeutic approach for CMT2A and other untreatable diseases of impaired neuronal mitochondrial dynamism and/or trafficking.
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