PerspectiveCell Biology

SevERing Mitochondria

Science  14 Oct 2011:
Vol. 334, Issue 6053, pp. 186-187
DOI: 10.1126/science.1214059

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Summary

Mitochondria are the cell's metabolic headquarters, fueling oxidative phosphorylation for adenosine 5′-triphosphate production, and driving reactions to manufacture core metabolites for the biosynthesis of fats, DNA, and proteins. In addition to their metabolic roles, these organelles regulate various cellular processes, including proliferation (1), immune responses (24), and apoptotic cell death (5). Mitochondrial function in many of these processes is coupled to their specific morphology, which ranges from small individual mitochondrial elements to large interconnected networks (6). These diverse shapes result from fission into smaller forms or fusion into larger structures (7, 8), events thought to occur autonomously. However, a study by Friedman et al. in Science Express (9) reveals that mitochondrial division is intimately coupled to another organelle, the endoplasmic reticulum (ER).