Mitochondrial network morphology: building an integrative, geometrical view

Susanne M Rafelski
2013 BMC Biology  
The morphology of mitochondrial networks is complex and highly varied, yet vital to cell function. The first step toward an integrative understanding of how mitochondrial morphology is generated and regulated is to define the interdependent geometrical features and their dynamics that together generate the morphology of a mitochondrial network within a cell. Distinct aspects of the size, shape, position, and dynamics of mitochondrial networks are described and examples of how these features
more » ... nd on one another discussed. It remains an intriguing mystery how a cell generates and regulates the morphology of its organelles. Consider the mitochondria. They are the powerhouse of the cell, centers of respiratory ATP production and key organelles in essential lipid metabolism pathways. Within a cell, mitochondria appear in a range of forms from numerous small individual organelles, as most often depicted in textbook illustrations, to a single large interconnected membrane-bound tubular network, depending on environmental conditions, cell type, and organism ( Figure 1 ) [1] [2] [3] [4] . What are the underlying principals and rules that shape an organelle as geometrically complex as the mitochondrion? What aspects of mitochondrial morphology arise from dynamic selforganizing principles, as seen for other intracellular structures [5] , and what aspects must be actively controlled to respond to the functional needs of the cell. To answer these questions, we need a multi-scale view of how the morphology of a mitochondrial network in the cell is achieved. We must consider both a) how molecular interactions at the nanometer scale generate the tubular structure of mitochondria and b) how these
doi:10.1186/1741-7007-11-71 pmid:23800141 pmcid:PMC3691739 fatcat:bbso4dfqvzhrllyhgb4pdoqaui