Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New cellular surprise may help scientists better understand human mitochondrial diseases

Date:
September 7, 2011
Source:
University of Colorado at Boulder
Summary:
A surprising new discovery regarding the division of tiny "power plants" within cells known as mitochondria has implications for better understanding a wide variety of human diseases and conditions due to mitochondrial defects.

A new study involving CU-Boulder and UC-Davis may help scientists better understand mitochondrial diseases and conditions.
Credit: NIH

A surprising new discovery by the University of Colorado Boulder and the University of California, Davis regarding the division of tiny "power plants" within cells known as mitochondria has implications for better understanding a wide variety of human diseases and conditions due to mitochondrial defects.

Related Articles


Led by CU-Boulder Assistant Professor Gia Voeltz and her team in collaboration with the UC-Davis team led by Professor Jodi Nunnari, the researchers analyzed factors that regulate the behavior of mitochondria, sausage-shaped organelles within cells that contain their own DNA and provide cells with the energy to move and divide. The dynamics of mitochondrion were intimately tied to another cell organelle known as the endoplasmic reticulum, which is a complex network of sacs and tubules that makes proteins and fats.

Voeltz and her colleagues showed that the division of the mitochondria within cells is tied to the point or points where they are physically touching the endoplasmic reticulum in both yeast and mammalian cells. "This is the first time one cell organelle has been shown to shape another," said Voeltz of CU's molecular, cellular and developmental biology department.

A paper on the study was published in the Sept. 2 issue of the journal Science. Co-authors on the study included CU-Boulder graduate student Jonathan Friedman, researcher Matthew West and senior Jared DiBenedetto and UC-Davis postdoctoral researcher Laura Lackner.

Enclosed by membranes, mitochondria vary vastly in numbers per individual cells depending on the organism and tissue type, according to the researchers. While some single-cell organisms contain only a single mitochondrion, a human liver cell can contain up to 2,000 mitochondria and take up nearly one-quarter of the cell space.

Since numerous human diseases are associated with mitochondrial dysfunction, it is important to understand how the division process is regulated, said Voeltz.

Mitochondrial defects have been linked to a wide range of degenerative conditions and diseases, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease and stroke. "Our studies suggest the possibility that human mitochondrial diseases could result from disruption or excessive contact between the endoplasmic reticulum and the mitochondria."

Previous work, including research in Nunnari's lab at UC-Davis, has shown that mitochondrial division is regulated by a protein known as "dynamine-related protein-1" that assembles into a noose-like ligature that tightens around individual mitochondrion, causing it to divide. The team found that several additional proteins linked to mitochondrial division also were found where the endoplasmic reticulum and mitochondria touched.

"The new function for the endoplasmic reticulum expands and transforms our view of cell organization," said Nunnari, a professor and chair of molecular cell biology at UC-Davis. "It's a paradigm shift in cell biology."

The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health, the Searle Scholar Program and CU-Boulder. CU-Boulder's Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program and Bioscience Undergraduate Research Skills and Training program funded the research by DiBenedetto.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Colorado at Boulder. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. J. R. Friedman, L. L. Lackner, M. West, J. R. DiBenedetto, J. Nunnari, G. K. Voeltz. ER Tubules Mark Sites of Mitochondrial Division. Science, 2011; DOI: 10.1126/science.1207385

Cite This Page:

University of Colorado at Boulder. "New cellular surprise may help scientists better understand human mitochondrial diseases." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 September 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110906152505.htm>.
University of Colorado at Boulder. (2011, September 7). New cellular surprise may help scientists better understand human mitochondrial diseases. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 27, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110906152505.htm
University of Colorado at Boulder. "New cellular surprise may help scientists better understand human mitochondrial diseases." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110906152505.htm (accessed February 27, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Friday, February 27, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

The Amazon Keeps Its Green Thanks To The Sahara Desert

The Amazon Keeps Its Green Thanks To The Sahara Desert

Newsy (Feb. 25, 2015) Satellite data shows the Amazon rainforest supports its lush flora with a little help from Sahara Desert dust. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Mayor Says District of Columbia to Go Ahead With Pot Legalization

Mayor Says District of Columbia to Go Ahead With Pot Legalization

Reuters - News Video Online (Feb. 25, 2015) Washington&apos;s mayor says the District of Columbia will move forward with marijuana legalization, despite pushback from Congress. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Marijuana Nowhere Near As Deadly As Alcohol: Study

Marijuana Nowhere Near As Deadly As Alcohol: Study

Newsy (Feb. 25, 2015) A new study says marijuana is about 114 times less deadly than alcohol. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Fox With Horrifying Injury Rescued and Released Back Into the Wild

Fox With Horrifying Injury Rescued and Released Back Into the Wild

RightThisMinute (Feb. 25, 2015) This wounded fox knew what she was doing when she wandered into the yard of a nature photographer. The photographer got "Scamp" immediately in the hands of Wildlife Aid and she was released back into the wild in no time. Video provided by RightThisMinute
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins