Cell Biology

Merging Mitochondria

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Science  02 Mar 2001:
Vol. 291, Issue 5509, pp. 1667
DOI: 10.1126/science.291.5509.1667b

Mitochondria lead a dynamic life involving multiple fusion and fission events to ensure that all of the mitochondria within a cell remain equivalent. Whilst these processes have been observed microscopically, little is known about the molecular mechanisms involved. Fusing two mitochondria poses a topological dilemma: each mitochondrion is bounded by two membranes, so how can both sets of membrane be fused in a coordinated fashion·

Fritz et al. may have found the answer, in the shape of a protein known as Fzo1. This protein is critical for mitochondrial fusion and appears to be able to link the inner and outer mitochondrial membranes. If, during mitochondrial fusion, the two membranes were joined, only a single fusion event would be needed to generate faithfully fused mitochondria. Whether Fzo1 is itself the fusogen remains to be determined, but it appears to possess the required characteristics, and may well be in the right place at the right time. — SMH

J. Cell Biol.152, 683 (2001).

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