Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Molecular switches in the cellular power plants: Researchers discover a new basic principle of the architecture of mitochondria

Date:
September 12, 2012
Source:
Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg
Summary:
A team of scientists has achieved groundbreaking new insights into the structure of mitochondria. Mitochondria are the microscopic power plants of the cell that harness the energy stored in food, thus enabling central life functions.

The protein complex MINOS plays a key role in the formation of the two membrane systems of mitochondria. MINOS is necessary for the architecture of the inner membrane and helps TOM and SAM embed proteins in the outer membrane by forming membrane bridges.
Credit: Ralf Zerbes

A team of scientists at the University of Freiburg led by Dr. Martin van der Laan has achieved groundbreaking new insights into the structure of mitochondria. Mitochondria are the microscopic power plants of the cell that harness the energy stored in food, thus enabling central life functions.

Related Articles


This conversion of energy takes place in delicately formed cavities of the biological membranes inside mitochondria. Defects in these fine membrane structures can lead to severe diseases of the muscles and the central nervous system. A sophisticated molecular machine of the inner membrane that the Freiburg team already discovered in 2011 is not only responsible for forming the characteristic structures within mitochondria but evidently also plays an important role in assembling the outer membrane enclosing these organelles, as the scientists now report in the renowned journal Molecular Biology of the Cell.

The protein machine studied by the scientists is essential for maintaining the typical architecture inside the mitochondria and have thus received the name "Mitochondrial Inner Membrane Organizing System" (MINOS). In their latest study, the Freiburg researchers and their colleagues in Graz, Austria, Warsaw, Poland, and Groningen, Netherlands, demonstrate that the role of MINOS in creating the mitochondrial architecture is clearly more extensive than previously assumed. In a joint research effort between the Collaborative Research Center 746 and the Cluster of Excellence Centre for Biological Signalling Studies (BIOSS), Dr. Maria Bohnert, Lena-Sophie Wenz and Ralf Zerbes found out how MINOS connects the distinct membrane systems of the mitochondria with each other.

The membrane complexes SAM and TOM play a key role in this process. They use tunnel-shaped structures to transport proteins into the mitochondrion and then embed them in the outer membrane. In their latest study, the Freiburg scientists demonstrate that the MINOS component Fcj1 of the Mitofilin protein family participates directly in this process, which is essential for the survival of the cells. The inactivation of Fcj1 inhibits the integration of proteins into the mitochondrial outer membrane.

These findings show how molecular switches affecting the connectivity of mitochondrial membranes control the assembly and function of the cellular power plants. These newly gained insights improve our understanding of the basic principles of the architecture of mitochondria. In the future they could help scientists to understand and influence mechanisms of diseases that involve changes in the fine structure of mitochondria.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. M. Bohnert, L.-S. Wenz, R. M. Zerbes, S. E. Horvath, D. A. Stroud, K. von der Malsburg, J. M. Muller, S. Oeljeklaus, I. Perschil, B. Warscheid, A. Chacinska, M. Veenhuis, I. J. van der Klei, G. Daum, N. Wiedemann, T. Becker, N. Pfanner, M. van der Laan. Role of MINOS in protein biogenesis of the mitochondrial outer membrane. Molecular Biology of the Cell, 2012; DOI: 10.1091/mbc.E12-04-0295

Cite This Page:

Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg. "Molecular switches in the cellular power plants: Researchers discover a new basic principle of the architecture of mitochondria." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 September 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120912084755.htm>.
Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg. (2012, September 12). Molecular switches in the cellular power plants: Researchers discover a new basic principle of the architecture of mitochondria. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 29, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120912084755.htm
Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg. "Molecular switches in the cellular power plants: Researchers discover a new basic principle of the architecture of mitochondria." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120912084755.htm (accessed March 29, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

New Arthropod Fossil Might Be Relative Of Spiders, Scorpions

New Arthropod Fossil Might Be Relative Of Spiders, Scorpions

Newsy (Mar. 29, 2015) — A 508-million-year-old arthropod that swam in the Cambrian seas is thought to share a common ancestor with spiders and scorpions. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Vietnam Rice Boom Piles Pressure on Farmers and the Environment

Vietnam Rice Boom Piles Pressure on Farmers and the Environment

AFP (Mar. 29, 2015) — Vietnam&apos;s drive to become the world&apos;s leading rice exporter is pushing farmers in the fertile Mekong Delta to the brink, say experts, with mounting costs to the environment. Duration: 02:35 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Lioness Has Rare Five-Cub Litter

Raw: Lioness Has Rare Five-Cub Litter

AP (Mar. 27, 2015) — A lioness in Pakistan has given birth to five cubs, twice the usual size of a litter. Queen gave birth to two other cubs just nine months ago. (March 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Jockey Motion Tracking Reveals Racing Prowess

Jockey Motion Tracking Reveals Racing Prowess

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Mar. 26, 2015) — Using motion tracking technology, researchers from the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) are trying to establish an optimum horse riding style to train junior jockeys, as well as enhance safety, health and well-being of both racehorses and jockeys. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
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