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.
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.
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
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
A Map of the Cell’s Power Station
18.08.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau
On the way to developing a new active ingredient against chronic infections
21.08.2017 | Deutsches Zentrum für Infektionsforschung
Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.
As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...
Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.
Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...
For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.
While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...
An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.
The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...
A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.
Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...
16.08.2017 | Event News
04.08.2017 | Event News
26.07.2017 | Event News
21.08.2017 | Materials Sciences
21.08.2017 | Health and Medicine
21.08.2017 | Materials Sciences