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 July 28, 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 July 28, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Monday, July 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Deadly Ebola Virus Threatens West Africa

Deadly Ebola Virus Threatens West Africa

AP (July 28, 2014) West African nations and international health organizations are working to contain the largest Ebola outbreak in history. It's one of the deadliest diseases known to man, but the CDC says it's unlikely to spread in the U.S. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

AP (July 28, 2014) Classes are being offered nationwide to encourage African Americans to learn about cooking fresh foods based on traditional African cuisine. The program is trying to combat obesity, heart disease and other ailments often linked to diet. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Asteroid's Timing Was 'Colossal Bad Luck' For The Dinosaurs

Asteroid's Timing Was 'Colossal Bad Luck' For The Dinosaurs

Newsy (July 28, 2014) The asteroid that killed the dinosaurs struck at the worst time for them. A new study says that if it hit earlier or later, they might've survived. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

AP (July 27, 2014) A live-streaming webcam catches loggerhead sea turtle hatchlings emerging from a nest in the Florida Keys. (July 27) Video provided by AP
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