Neuroscience

Probe detects the destruction of defective mitochondria

A versatile probe that can detect with pinpoint accuracy the programmed destruction of defective mitochondria—the powerhouses of cells—has been developed by RIKEN researchers. They used it to show that damaged mitochondria ...

Medical research

Lack of mitochondria causes severe disease in children

Researchers at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden have discovered that excessive degradation of mitochondria, the power plants of cells, plays an important role in the onset of mitochondrial disease in children. These inherited ...

Neuroscience

Boosting energy levels within damaged nerves may help them heal

When the spinal cord is injured, the damaged nerve fibers—called axons—are normally incapable of regrowth, leading to permanent loss of function. Considerable research has been done to find ways to promote the regeneration ...

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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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