Researchers at the University of Freiburg discover a basic architectural principle of mitochondria
A group of scientists led by Assistant Professor Dr. Martin van der Laan has decoded the molecular basis for the characteristic structures inside of mitochondria. Mitochondria are the powerhouses of cells and contain microscopic, strongly infolded membrane structures.
These structures allow mitochondria to use the energy gained from food effectively. A defect in the architecture of mitochondrial membrane folds can lead to serious disorders in the nervous and muscular system.
The team of researchers from the University of Freiburg has now published a study in the international professional journal Cell Metabolism in which it describes a sophisticated molecular structure made of membrane proteins. This structure allows mitochondria to develop their typical architecture while keeping the elaborate network of membrane folds stable.
A large complex of several protein components, called the MICOS complex (the acronym for mitochondrial contact site and cristae organizing system), plays a key role in the inner structure of mitochondria and was discovered by the same group of scientists from the University of Freiburg several years ago.
For the current study, van der Laan’s team worked together with researchers from the University of Groningen in the Netherlands and the Max-Planck-Institute of Biophysics in Frankfurt to decode the blueprint and functions of the MICOS. They determined that Mic10, which is a component of the MICOS, plays a central role. Dr. Maria Bohnert, an expert in molecular medicine and biochemistry from the University of Freiburg, discovered a structure within the protein Mic10 that functions like a barcode.
It contains information that describes where Mic10 belongs within the cell. It thus controls the transport of Mic10 and its insertion into the inner membrane system of mitochondria. When the protein has reached its final destination, a second characteristic structure of Mic10 enables it to join many identical copies together to create an extended protein scaffold that keeps the mitochondria's specialized membrane folds together.
If one of the two main structural elements in Mic10 is inactivated, parts of the membrane system collapse, leading to mitochondrial malfunction. On the other hand, if there is too much Mic10, an extreme expansion of the mitochondrial membrane folds occurs.
“Our results show that Mic10 is the structural basis of MICOS. It is vital for building the small generators in the cell's power station,” Bohnert said. These discoveries could help scientists better understand many different disorders related to the defective construction of mitochondria and the partial loss of mitochondrial functions.
Scientists from Freiburg involved in this study work at the Institute of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Freiburg and are members of the Cluster of Excellence BIOSS Centre for Biological Signalling Studies as well as the Collaborative Research Centre 746 "Functional Specificity by Coupling and Modification of Proteins". Bohnert is a post-doc researcher at the Institute for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Freiburg.
Maria Bohnert, Ralf M. Zerbes, Karen M. Davies, Alexander W. Mühleip, Heike Rampelt, Susanne E. Horvath, Thorina Boenke, Anita Kram, Inge Perschil, Marten Veenhuis, Werner Kühlbrandt, Ida J. van der Klei, Nikolaus Pfanner, and Martin van der Laan: “Central Role of Mic10 in the Mitochondrial Contact Site and Cristae Organizing System", Cell Metabolism, published online 5 May 2015.
Dr. Martin van der Laan
Institute for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
University of Freiburg
Tel.: +49 (0)761-203-5270
Fax: +49 (0)761-203-67500
Dr. Martin van der Laan | University of Freiburg
Scientists uncover the role of a protein in production & survival of myelin-forming cells
19.07.2018 | Advanced Science Research Center, GC/CUNY
NYSCF researchers develop novel bioengineering technique for personalized bone grafts
18.07.2018 | New York Stem Cell Foundation
A new manufacturing technique uses a process similar to newspaper printing to form smoother and more flexible metals for making ultrafast electronic devices.
The low-cost process, developed by Purdue University researchers, combines tools already used in industry for manufacturing metals on a large scale, but uses...
For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.
To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...
For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.
Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...
Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.
A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...
Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.
"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....
13.07.2018 | Event News
12.07.2018 | Event News
03.07.2018 | Event News
20.07.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering
20.07.2018 | Information Technology
20.07.2018 | Materials Sciences