Mitochondrial morphology and distribution in mammalian cells

Biol Chem. 2006 Dec;387(12):1551-8. doi: 10.1515/BC.2006.193.


It is now appreciated that mitochondria form tubular networks that adapt to the requirements of the cell by undergoing changes in their shape through fission and fusion. Proper mitochondrial distribution also appears to be required for ATP delivery and calcium regulation, and, in some cases, for cell development. While we now realise the great importance of mitochondria for the cell, we are only beginning to work out how these organelles undergo the drastic morphological changes that are essential for cellular function. Of the few known components involved in shaping mitochondria, some have been found to be essential to life and their gene mutations are linked to neurological disorders, while others appear to be recruited in the activation of cell death pathways. Here we review our current understanding of the functions of the main players involved in mitochondrial fission, fusion and distribution in mammalian cells.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis
  • Humans
  • Mammals
  • Mitochondria / ultrastructure*