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Distinctive Mitochondria

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Science  19 Apr 2002:
Vol. 296, Issue 5567, pp. 433
DOI: 10.1126/science.296.5567.433c

It has long been unclear whether mitochondria are actually individual intracellular organelles or instead form a continuous network like the endoplasmic reticulum. Their morphology, of course, has implications for signal transduction: For example, a continuous network would allow local calcium signals to be disseminated throughout the cell, whereas in a discontinuous population, some could be depolarized to promote apoptosis while others continued to generate the energy required for the cell death program. Using fluorescent photobleaching in multiple cell types, Collins et al. present evidence that the mitochondria are structurally distinct. Fluorescent indicators that respond to membrane potential also indicated that mitochondria are electrically independent. The authors emphasize that mitochondrial morphology itself is malleable and likely reflects the status or recent history of the cell.—LBR

EMBO J.21, 1616 (2002).

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