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ERC

OrgaNet Report Summary

Project ID: 337906
Funded under: FP7-IDEAS-ERC
Country: Switzerland

Mid-Term Report Summary - ORGANET (From Isolated Compartments to Intracellular Networks: Deciphering Interorganelle Communication)

Mitochondria are the powerhouses of the cell. These organelles, although autonomous in many respect, have to communicate with the rest of the cell to integrate harmoniously in cellular function. Their content and intracellular distribution have to be controlled at the cellular level.
Although lipids are crucial molecules in the make up of mitochondria, how these hydrophobic molecules reach mitochondria is unclear. We have shown that a protein complex found at a physical interface between the endoplasmic reticulum and mitochondria is able to transport lipids from one membrane to the other. We have also found that it was not the only protein complex involved in the process and that various organelles exchange lipids with one another and constitute a network of lipid exchange routes.
Mitochondria are highly dynamic structures that constantly change their intracellular distribution, they do it by moving within the cells and by undergoing fission and fusion. While the distribution of mitochondria is thought to rely on molecular motors which can drag mitochondria along cytoskeletal tracks, we identified a novel pathway that does not use molecular motors to move mitochondria, but the energy released during the polymerization of the cytoskeletal tracks themselves. Finally, mitochondrial fission is a process that is constantly undergoing in cells and spatially correlates with the presence of endoplasmic reticulum. We have found that mechanical stimuli on the mitochondria could trigger mitochondrial fission. This explains why fission correlates with the presence of the endoplasmic reticulum; the endoplasmic reticulum likely physically clashes with mitochondria and causes them to undergo fission. Thus intracellular mitochondrial distribution depends both on specific interactions with factors promoting their movement, and non-specific interaction with structures that promote their fission.

Reported by

EIDGENOESSISCHE TECHNISCHE HOCHSCHULE ZURICH
Switzerland
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