Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New cellular surprise may help scientists better understand human mitochondrial diseases

07.09.2011
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.

Gia Voeltz | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.colorado.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Unique genome architectures after fertilisation in single-cell embryos
30.03.2017 | IMBA - Institut für Molekulare Biotechnologie der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften GmbH

nachricht Transport of molecular motors into cilia
28.03.2017 | Aarhus University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: A Challenging European Research Project to Develop New Tiny Microscopes

The Institute of Semiconductor Technology and the Institute of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry, both members of the Laboratory for Emerging Nanometrology (LENA), at Technische Universität Braunschweig are partners in a new European research project entitled ChipScope, which aims to develop a completely new and extremely small optical microscope capable of observing the interior of living cells in real time. A consortium of 7 partners from 5 countries will tackle this issue with very ambitious objectives during a four-year research program.

To demonstrate the usefulness of this new scientific tool, at the end of the project the developed chip-sized microscope will be used to observe in real-time...

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

'On-off switch' brings researchers a step closer to potential HIV vaccine

30.03.2017 | Health and Medicine

Penn studies find promise for innovations in liquid biopsies

30.03.2017 | Health and Medicine

An LED-based device for imaging radiation induced skin damage

30.03.2017 | Medical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>