Fission and fusion to help keep our cells healthy

2012

Challenge

Mitochondria—the subcellular organelles responsible for a cell’s energy production and other metabolic functions—can suffer from defects of normal development, which have been associated with neurodegenerative disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease.

Advance

IRP researchers led by Richard Youle, Ph.D., described two normal mitochondrial processes—fission and fusion—that appear to play an important role in ensuring mitochondrial health via a “cut and paste” mechanism that removes and repairs damage resulting from cellular stress.

Impact

The new knowledge of mitochondrial fission and fusion processes may allow researchers to harness the cells’ natural repair ability to develop new therapies for both mitochondrial and neurodegenerative diseases.

Publications

Youle RJ, van der Bliek AM. (2012). Mitochondrial fission, fusion, and stress. Science. 337(6098), 1062-5.