A recent study explains an essential component for proper mitochondrial function: The protein complexes MICOS and ATP synthase can communicate with each other. Dr. Heike Rampelt and Prof. Dr. Nikolaus Pfanner at the Institute of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology of the University of Freiburg have uncovered an important mechanism that ensures efficient metabolic adaptation of mitochondria. The research is a collaboration with the groups of Prof. Dr. Martin van der Laan of Saarland University, Prof. Dr. Claudine Kraft of the University of Freiburg and Prof. Dr. Ida van der Klei of the University Groningen / Netherlands and combines biochemical approaches with fluorescence microscopy of living cells as well as electron microscopy to visualize mitochondrial membrane architecture. The study has been published in the journal Cell Reports.
Cellular respiration of the inner mitochondrial membrane
Mitochondria, the power plants of the cell, make massive contributions to the energy supply of the body by burning metabolites with the help of oxygen. This cellular respiration takes place in the inner of the two mitochondrial membranes that, in contrast to the outer membrane, is strongly folded. The structure and topology of these membrane folds, the so-called cristae membranes, has profound influence on the efficiency of respiration and is important for many mitochondrial functions. For this reason, cristae architecture is controlled precisely and adapted dynamically to changes in cellular metabolism. Defects in these processes result in severe human diseases.