The changing shape of mitochondrial apoptosis

Trends Endocrinol Metab. 2009 Aug;20(6):287-94. doi: 10.1016/j.tem.2009.03.007. Epub 2009 Jul 31.


Mitochondria are key organelles in conversion of energy, regulation of cellular signaling and amplification of programmed cell death. The anatomy of the organelle matches this functional versatility in complexity and is modulated by the concerted action of proteins that impinge on its fusion-fission equilibrium. A growing body of evidence implicates changes in mitochondrial shape in the progression of apoptosis and, therefore, proteins governing such changes are likely candidates for involvement in pathogenetic mechanisms in neurodegeneration and cancer. Here, we discuss the recent advancements in our knowledge about the machinery that regulates mitochondrial shape and on the role of molecular mechanisms controlling mitochondrial morphology during cell death.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Membrane Fusion
  • Mitochondria / physiology*
  • Mitochondria / ultrastructure
  • Mitochondrial Diseases / genetics
  • Mitochondrial Diseases / physiopathology
  • Mitochondrial Membranes
  • Mitochondrial Proteins / physiology
  • Mitochondrial Size / physiology*
  • Organelle Shape / physiology*


  • Mitochondrial Proteins