Evolution of the mitochondrial fusion-fission cycle and its role in aging

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011 Jun 21;108(25):10237-42. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1101604108. Epub 2011 Jun 6.


Mitochondria are organelles of eukaryotic cells that contain their own genetic material and evolved from prokaryotic ancestors some 2 billion years ago. They are the main source of the cell's energy supply and are involved in such important processes as apoptosis, mitochondrial diseases, and aging. During recent years it also became apparent that mitochondria display a complex dynamical behavior of fission and fusion, the function of which is as yet unknown. In this paper we develop a concise theory that explains why fusion and fission have evolved, how these processes are related to the accumulation of mitochondrial mutants during aging, why the mitochondrial DNA has to be located close to the respiration complexes where most radicals are generated, and what selection pressures shaped the slightly different structure of animal and plant mitochondria. We believe that this "organelle control" theory will help in understanding key processes involved in the evolution of the mitochondrial genome and the aging process.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aging / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Biological Evolution*
  • DNA, Mitochondrial / genetics
  • Genotype
  • Mitochondria / physiology*
  • Mitochondria / ultrastructure
  • Models, Biological
  • Mutation
  • Oxidative Phosphorylation
  • Phenotype
  • Plant Cells
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism


  • DNA, Mitochondrial
  • Reactive Oxygen Species