Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

How the power plants of the cell get shaped

11.09.2015

HZI scientists develop model for dynamic mitochondrial networks

Mitochondria are the power plants of cells. They control the production of energy and initiate various central cellular processes. If they become non-functional, this can cause or favour a number of diseases. These diseases are mainly of a neurological or muscular type, but include ageing processes as well.


Cytoskeleton (grey lines) affects fusion of mitochondria. By this it shapes their network and simultaneously separates them into peripheral dispersed fraction (blue) and central condensed ones (red)

© HZI / Sukhorukov

Systems biologists at the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI) in Braunschweig used a new mathematical model to describe which mechanisms are involved in the formation and maintenance of the dynamic mitochondrial networks in cells. The scientists published their results in "Scientific Reports".

One special feature of mitochondria is their pronounced dynamic behaviour inside the cell. They form a network that changes on a time scale of minutes through fission and fusion with other mitochondria again. Their special structure has a significant influence on how effectively they can supply energy:

Fibrous network structures produce a large amount of energy, whereas smaller fragments are less effective. "These processes play a role in cell ageing as well. Over-stressed or damaged mitochondria get fragmented and are then subjected to disposal," says Valerii Sukhorukov, who is a scientist at the Systems Immunology department at the HZI and the principal author of the study.

But how does the dynamic balance between the small fragments and the effective fibres of mitochondria get established? This was the central question addressed by the researchers. "Mechanisms of this type cannot be studied by biochemical analyses alone. This requires model-based simulations on a computer that explain the dynamic changes in the cell very well," says Prof Michael Meyer-Hermann, who directs the Systems Immunology department.

For this purpose, the scientists developed an initial mathematical model that is based on the different lengths of the mitochondrial fragments in linear or branched arrangement. The central result of the study is that an exact description of the mitochondria in the cell becomes possible only if the random motions of mitochondria along the fibres of the cellular skeleton, called microtubules, are taken into account.

This resulted in a so-called graph model that is based on the density of the microtubules and their intersections within the cell. The model describes all forms of mitochondria that have been found in experiments thus far and it also yields explanations for events that were understood incompletely thus far.

Sukhorukov and his colleagues would like to use the new mathematical model in the future to analyse the quality control of the fragmented mitochondria and to understand how cells control or remedy damage to their mitochondria. "This is very important to understand how cells control their energy balance despite the accumulation of damage with advancing age. This would allow us to draw conclusions about certain genetics-related diseases such as Parkinson's and ageing processes in the immune system," says Sukhorukov.

Original publication:
Valerii M. Sukhorukov, Michael Meyer-Hermann. Structural Heterogeneity of the Mitochondria Induced by the Microtubule Cytoskeleton.Scientific Reports. 2015 Sep 11. 5:13924. DOI: 10.1038/srep13924

Weitere Informationen:

http://www.helmholtz-hzi.de/en/news_events/news/view/article/complete/how_the_po... - This press release at helmholtz-hzi.de
http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/srep13924 - Link to the original publication

Susanne Thiele | Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Hunting pathogens at full force
22.03.2017 | Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung

nachricht A 155 carat diamond with 92 mm diameter
22.03.2017 | Universität Augsburg

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

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...

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

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

Pulverizing electronic waste is green, clean -- and cold

22.03.2017 | Materials Sciences

Astronomers hazard a ride in a 'drifting carousel' to understand pulsating stars

22.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

New gel-like coating beefs up the performance of lithium-sulfur batteries

22.03.2017 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>