The many shapes of mitochondrial membranes

Traffic. 2001 Apr;2(4):235-44. doi: 10.1034/j.1600-0854.2001.1r008.x.


The roles of mitochondria in cell death and in aging have generated much excitement in recent years. At the same time, however, a quiet revolution in our thinking about mitochondrial ultrastructure has begun. This revolution started with the use of vital dyes and of green fluorescent protein fusion proteins, showing that mitochondria are very dynamic structures that constantly move, divide and fuse throughout the life of a cell. More recently, some of the first proteins contributing to these various processes have been discovered. Our view of the internal structures of mitochondria has also changed. Three-dimensional reconstructions obtained with high voltage electron microscopy show that cristae are often connected to the mitochondrial inner membrane by thin tubules. These new insights are brought to bear on the wealth of data collected by conventional electron microscopic analysis.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Transport
  • DNA, Mitochondrial / genetics
  • Humans
  • Intracellular Membranes / metabolism*
  • Intracellular Membranes / pathology
  • Intracellular Membranes / ultrastructure*
  • Membrane Fusion
  • Mitochondria / genetics
  • Mitochondria / metabolism*
  • Mitochondria / pathology
  • Mitochondria / ultrastructure*
  • Mitochondrial Myopathies / genetics
  • Mitochondrial Myopathies / pathology
  • Submitochondrial Particles / metabolism
  • Submitochondrial Particles / ultrastructure


  • DNA, Mitochondrial