Purdue University Graduate School
thesis-Yueyang Wang v2.pdf (3.56 MB)

Mitofusin 2 regulates actin cytoskeleton and cell migration

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posted on 2022-04-27, 13:44 authored by Yueyang WangYueyang Wang


Zebrafish (Danio rerio) is a well-established model to study neutrophil biology. However, a lack of standard tissue-specific knockdown or knockout technique in the zebrafish field has limited the power of this model organism when studying developmental essential genes, such as those related to mitochondrial function. We have developed a robust and flexible neutrophil-restricted knockout in zebrafish based on CRISPR/Cas9 system, with which we gained insights into the role of Rac2 in regulating the actin cytoskeleton and the subcellular location of Rac activation in zebrafish neutrophils.

Previous study in our lab using another neutrophil-specific knockout system addressed multiple mitochondrial proteins regulate neutrophil motility in zebrafish. Interestingly, we observed Mfn2-deficient neutrophils trapped in the vasculature in zebrafish embryos. Here we further characterized the function of MFN2 in regulating cell migration with neutrophil-like HL-60 cells and mice embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs). We found significant changes in actin organization in both MFN2-deficient neutrophil-like cells and MEFs and mechanistically, disrupted mitochondria-ER interaction, increased intracellular Ca2+ levels. We also investigated the cytoskeleton proteins and observed hyperactivation of RhoA and Myosin light chain kinase, along with accumulation of phosphorylated myosin light chain at the cell boundary in MFN2-deficient MEFs. These altered MFN2-Ca2+-RhoA/MLCK-myosin signaling finally affects the peripheral actin bundle architecture and forms the “Peripheral Actin Myosin Belt (PAMB)” structure. The formation of PAMB hampered cell adhesive migration in Mfn2-null MEFs. 

Altogether, our research gained new insights into the essential role of MFN2 in cytoskeleton regulation and the underlying molecular mechanisms, which may provide a new direction to understand the relevance of this gene in immune cell dysfunction and other MFN2-associated diseases.


NIH [R35GM119787 to DQ]



Degree Type

  • Doctor of Philosophy


  • Biological Sciences

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Qing Deng

Additional Committee Member 2

Daniel Suter

Additional Committee Member 3

David M. Umulis

Additional Committee Member 4

Ruben Claudio Aguilar