Mitochondrial dynamics generate equal distribution but patchwork localization of respiratory Complex I

Mol Membr Biol. Nov-Dec 2006;23(6):509-20. doi: 10.1080/09687860600877292.


Highly dynamic mitochondrial morphology is a prerequisite for fusion and fission. Mitochondrial fusion may represent a rescue mechanism for impaired mitochondria by exchanging constituents (proteins, lipids and mitochondrial DNA) and thus maintaining functionality. Here we followed for the first time the dynamics of a protein complex of the respiratory chain during fusion and fission. HeLa cells with differently labelled respiratory Complex I were fused and the dynamics of Complex I were investigated. The mitochondrial proteins spread throughout the whole mitochondrial population within 3 to 6 h after induction of cell fusion. Mitochondria of fused cells displayed a patchy substructure where the differently labelled proteins occupied separate and distinct spaces. This patchy appearance was already--although less pronounced--observed within single mitochondria before fusion, indicating a specific localization of Complex I with restricted diffusion within the inner membrane. These findings substantiate the view of a homogenous mitochondrial population due to constantly rearranging mitochondria, but also indicate the existence of distinct inner mitochondrial sub-compartments for respiratory chain complexes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Electron Transport Complex I / metabolism*
  • Fluorescence
  • HeLa Cells
  • Humans
  • Membrane Fusion
  • Mitochondria / metabolism*
  • Mitochondria / physiology
  • Mitochondria / ultrastructure
  • Mitochondrial Membranes / metabolism*
  • Transfection
  • Xenopus laevis / metabolism


  • Electron Transport Complex I