Mitochondrial dynamics and cancer

Semin Cancer Biol. 2009 Feb;19(1):50-6. doi: 10.1016/j.semcancer.2008.12.001. Epub 2008 Dec 24.


Mitochondrial morphology is regulated by continuous fusion and fission events that are essential for maintaining a normal mitochondrial function. If the last years have witnessed major discoveries in the characterization of the fission and fusion machineries, little is known about the physiological role of mitochondrial dynamics. In this review we report the results showing evidences of relationships between mitochondrial dynamics and cellular metabolism, autophagy or apoptosis. We discuss how different mitochondrial alterations observed in cancer cells could be linked to unbalanced mitochondrial fission or fusion events and how this could impinge on key essential cellular processes, thereby contributing to tumorigenesis.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / physiology
  • Autophagy / physiology
  • Cell Cycle / physiology
  • Energy Metabolism / physiology
  • Humans
  • Mitochondria / physiology*
  • Mitochondrial Proteins / metabolism*
  • Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2 / metabolism*


  • Mitochondrial Proteins
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2