Related topics: cells · protein · cell death · neurons · brain

How a mitochondrial enzyme can trigger cell death

Cytochrome c is a small enzyme that plays an important role in the production of energy by mitochondria. It is also involved in signaling dangerous problems that warrant apoptosis, or programmed cell death. Using solid-state ...

Researchers uncover mechanism of protein transport in mitochondria

The research labs of Dr. Thomas Becker and Dr. Nikolaus Pfanner from the Institute for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Freiburg have reported a function of the metabolite channel of the mitochondrial ...

A new way to transfer energy between cells

Researchers from the Catalonian Institute of Bioengineering (Instituto de Bioingeniería de Cataluña) and the Seville Chemical Research Institute (Instituto de Investigaciones Químicas de Sevilla) have described a new method ...

Sea slug study illuminates how mitochondria move

Your cells have an amazing ability—they can build their own energy factories, called mitochondria. Once built, mitochondria must move where needed in the cell. Defects in mitochondrial transport are a suspected cause of ...

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Mitochondrion

In cell biology, a mitochondrion (plural mitochondria) is a membrane-enclosed organelle found in most eukaryotic cells. These organelles range from 0.5–10 micrometers (μm) in diameter. Mitochondria are sometimes described as "cellular power plants" because they generate most of the cell's supply of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), used as a source of chemical energy. In addition to supplying cellular energy, mitochondria are involved in a range of other processes, such as signaling, cellular differentiation, cell death, as well as the control of the cell cycle and cell growth. Mitochondria have been implicated in several human diseases, including mitochondrial disorders and cardiac dysfunction, and may play a role in the aging process. The word mitochondrion comes from the Greek μίτος or mitos, thread + χονδρίον or khondrion, granule.

Several characteristics make mitochondria unique. The number of mitochondria in a cell varies widely by organism and tissue type. Many cells have only a single mitochondrion, whereas others can contain several thousand mitochondria. The organelle is composed of compartments that carry out specialized functions. These compartments or regions include the outer membrane, the intermembrane space, the inner membrane, and the cristae and matrix. Mitochondrial proteins vary depending on the tissue and the species. In humans, 615 distinct types of proteins have been identified from cardiac mitochondria; whereas in Murinae (rats), 940 proteins encoded by distinct genes have been reported. The mitochondrial proteome is thought to be dynamically regulated. Although most of a cell's DNA is contained in the cell nucleus, the mitochondrion has its own independent genome. Further, its DNA shows substantial similarity to bacterial genomes.

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