Molecular mechanism of mitochondrial membrane fusion

Biochim Biophys Acta. May-Jun 2006;1763(5-6):482-9. doi: 10.1016/j.bbamcr.2006.02.003. Epub 2006 Mar 9.


Mitochondrial fusion requires coordinated fusion of the outer and inner membranes. This process leads to exchange of contents, controls the shape of mitochondria, and is important for mitochondrial function. Two types of mitochondrial GTPases are essential for mitochondrial fusion. On the outer membrane, the fuzzy onions/mitofusin proteins form complexes in trans that mediate homotypic physical interactions between adjacent mitochondria and are likely directly involved in outer membrane fusion. Associated with the inner membrane, the OPA1 dynamin-family GTPase maintains membrane structure and is a good candidate for mediating inner membrane fusion. In yeast, Ugo1p binds to both of these GTPases to form a fusion complex, although a related protein has yet to be found in mammals. An understanding of the molecular mechanism of fusion may have implications for Charcot-Marie-Tooth subtype 2A and autosomal dominant optic atrophy, neurodegenerative diseases caused by mutations in Mfn2 and OPA1.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Ergosterol / metabolism
  • GTP Phosphohydrolases / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Membrane Fusion*
  • Mitochondrial Membranes / metabolism*
  • SNARE Proteins / metabolism
  • Virus Physiological Phenomena


  • SNARE Proteins
  • GTP Phosphohydrolases
  • Ergosterol