The internal structure of mitochondria

Trends Biochem Sci. 2000 Jul;25(7):319-24. doi: 10.1016/s0968-0004(00)01609-1.


Electron microscopic (EM) tomography is providing important new insights into the internal organization of mitochondria. The standard baffle model for cristae structure, called into question years ago, has now clearly been shown to be inaccurate. Depending on source and conformational state, cristae can vary from simple tubular structures to more complex lamellar structures merging with the inner boundary membrane through tubular structures 28 nm in diameter. The structural information provided by EM tomography has important implications for mitochondrial bioenergetics, biogenesis and the role of mitochondria in apoptosis. The structural paradigm defined by EM tomography is helping in the design of new experimental approaches to mitochondrial function.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis
  • Computer Simulation
  • Diffusion
  • Humans
  • Intracellular Membranes / metabolism
  • Intracellular Membranes / ultrastructure*
  • Microscopy, Electron / methods
  • Mitochondria / metabolism
  • Mitochondria / pathology
  • Mitochondria / ultrastructure*
  • Oxidative Phosphorylation
  • Tomography / methods
  • Tomography / trends