Acute heat stress (aHS) can induce strong developmental defects in Caenorhabditis elegans larva but not lethality or sterility. This stress results in transitory fragmentation of mitochondria, formation of aggregates in the matrix, and decrease of mitochondrial respiration. Moreover, active autophagic flux associated with mitophagy events enables the rebuilding of the mitochondrial network and developmental recovery, showing that the autophagic response is protective. This adaptation to aHS does not require Pink1/Parkin or the mitophagy receptors DCT-1/NIX and FUNDC1. We also find that mitochondria are a major site for autophagosome biogenesis in the epidermis in both standard and heat stress conditions. In addition, we report that the depletion of the dynamin-related protein 1 (DRP-1) affects autophagic processes and the adaptation to aHS. In drp-1 animals, the abnormal mitochondria tend to modify their shape upon aHS but are unable to achieve fragmentation. Autophagy is induced, but autophagosomes are abnormally elongated and clustered on mitochondria. Our data support a role for DRP-1 in coordinating mitochondrial fission and autophagosome biogenesis in stress conditions.

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