Mitochondrial dynamics in health and disease
Mitochondria are well-known to be the “powerhouses” of the eukaryotic cell, due to their efficient generation of ATP through oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS). In addition, mitochondria are the sites of the tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle, fatty acid oxidation, and numerous other metabolic pathways. But the roles of mitochondria extend far beyond energy metabolism—mitochondria play central roles in apoptosis, intracellular calcium handling, reactive oxygen species (ROS) signaling, innate immunity, and iron-sulfur cluster biogenesis. Given these important functions, it is not surprising that dysfunction of mitochondria underlies many human diseases, particularly those of the nervous and muscular systems.
Mitochondrial dynamics impacts virtually every function of mitochondria. Mitochondria are dynamic organelles that continually undergo fusion, fission, and trafficking (Figure 1 and Movie 1). These fundamental cell biological processes control mitochondrial shape, number, size, distribution, and physiology. The primary focus of our lab is to understand the role of mitochondrial dynamics in cellular physiology, development and human disease. In addition, we study other aspects of mitochondrial biology, including organellar quality control and biogenesis.