Host: Darcy Kelley
Title: Mitochondria: An intracellular brain?
Abstract: Positioned at the helm of cellular metabolism, mitochondria perform a number of biochemical and signaling functions that orchestrate gene expression and animal behavior. Recent evidence suggests that similar to neurons functionally embedded within neural networks, mitochondria sense, integrate, and signal information. Sub-cellular imaging and molecular studies in skeletal muscle of patients with mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) mutations suggest conserved mito-nuclear signaling mechanisms that explain how mutant mitochondria proliferate, expand directionally through the cell cytoplasm, and promote disease. Quantitative 3D electron microscopy imaging studies have also revealed the existence of novel mitochondrial membrane structures that enable mitochondrial communication, including mitochondrial nanotunnels and inter-mitochondrial junctions. Together, these results provide converging evidence for new principles that orchestrate sub-cellular behavior of mutant mitochondria and the role of mitochondrial signaling in disease progression.