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.

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 September 17, 2014 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 September 17, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Some Tobacco Farmers Thrive Amid Challenges

Some Tobacco Farmers Thrive Amid Challenges

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) The South's tobacco country is surviving, and even thriving in some cases, as demand overseas keeps growers in the fields of one of America's oldest cash crops. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Given Rare Glimpse of 350-Kilo Colossal Squid

Scientists Given Rare Glimpse of 350-Kilo Colossal Squid

AFP (Sep. 16, 2014) Scientists say a female colossal squid weighing an estimated 350 kilograms (770 lbs) and thought to be only the second intact specimen ever found was carrying eggs when discovered in the Antarctic. Duration: 00:47 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) Squid experts in New Zealand thawed and examined an unusual catch on Tuesday: a colossal squid. It was captured in Antarctica's remote Ross Sea in December last year and has been frozen for eight months. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ivorians Abandon Monkey Pets in Fear Over Ebola Virus

Ivorians Abandon Monkey Pets in Fear Over Ebola Virus

AFP (Sep. 16, 2014) Since the arrival of Ebola in Ivory Coast, Ivorians have been abandoning their pets, particularly monkeys, in the fear that they may transmit the virus. Duration: 00:47 Video provided by AFP
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:
from the past week

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