A new brake on cellular energy production discovered

Jul 27, 2007

A condition that has to be met for the body to be able to keep warm, move and even survive is that the mitochondria - the cells' power stations - release the right amounts of energy. Scientists at Karolinska Institutet have now identified the first known factor that acts as a brake on cellular energy production.

Mitochondria release energy through a process known as cellular respiration - a chemical process inside each mitochondrion that results in the production of the cell's energy currency, the molecule ATP.

As important parts of the respiratory chain are encoded by mitochrondrial DNA, mtDNA, the cell can adapt its energy production to varying needs by increasing or reducing the expression of mtDNA. However, very little is known about how this process is regulated.

Two research teams at Karolinska Institutet, led by Claes Gustafsson and Nils-Göran Larsson respectively, have now made an important breakthrough by discovering an entirely new mitochondrial factor, MTERF3. This new factor inhibits the expression of mtDNA and can thus slow down the cell's energy production.

The discovery, which is published in the journal Cell, may in future lead to completely new ways of treating various diseases. Impaired mitochondrial function gives rise to a cellular energy crisis and probably plays an important role in a number of common diseases such as diabetes, heart failure and Parkinson’s disease, as well as in normal ageing.

Source: Karolinska Institutet

Explore further: Diabetes drug found in freshwater is a potential cause of intersex fish

Related Stories

Fast, efficient switching – thanks to HiPoSwitch

Apr 15, 2015

Electrical power comes out of wall sockets, of course. But hardly any electronic device can take normal line voltage. Computers, smartphones, LEDs, and chargers, for instance, cannot use electrical energy ...

Recommended for you

York's anti-malarial plant given Chinese approval

17 hours ago

A new hybrid plant used in anti-malarial drug production, developed by scientists at the University of York's Centre for Novel Agricultural Products (CNAP), is now registered as a new variety in China.

The appeal of being anti-GMO

22 hours ago

A team of Belgian philosophers and plant biotechnologists have turned to cognitive science to explain why opposition to genetically modified organisms (GMOs) has become so widespread, despite positive contributions ...

Micro fingers for arranging single cells

23 hours ago

Functional analysis of a cell, which is the fundamental unit of life, is important for gaining new insights into medical and pharmaceutical fields. For efficiently studying cell functions, it is essential ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.