Moving mitochondria: establishing distribution of an essential organelle

Traffic. 2007 Dec;8(12):1668-1675. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0854.2007.00644.x. Epub 2007 Oct 17.


Mitochondria form a dynamic network responsible for energy production, calcium homeostasis and cell signaling. Appropriate distribution of the mitochondrial network contributes to organelle function and is essential for cell survival. Highly polarized cells, including neurons and budding yeast, are particularly sensitive to defects in mitochondrial movement and have emerged as model systems for studying mechanisms that regulate organelle distribution. Mitochondria in multicellular eukaryotes move along microtubule tracks. Actin, the primary cytoskeletal component used for transport in yeast, has more subtle functions in other organisms. Kinesin, dynein and myosin isoforms drive motor-based movement along cytoskeletal tracks. Milton and syntabulin have recently been identified as potential organelle-specific adaptor molecules for microtubule-based motors. Miro, a conserved GTPase, may function with Milton to regulate transport. In yeast, Mmr1p and Ypt11p, a Rab GTPase, are implicated in myosin V-based mitochondrial movement. These potential adaptors could regulate motor activity and therefore determine individual organelle movements. Anchoring of stationary mitochondria also contributes to organelle retention at specific sites in the cell. Together, movement and anchoring ultimately determine mitochondrial distribution throughout the cell.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axons / metabolism
  • Cytoskeleton / metabolism
  • Dyneins / chemistry
  • GTP Phosphohydrolases / chemistry
  • Humans
  • Kinesins / physiology
  • Mitochondria / metabolism*
  • Models, Biological
  • Myosins / metabolism
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Organelles / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction / physiology


  • GTP Phosphohydrolases
  • Myosins
  • Dyneins
  • Kinesins