Mouse lines with photo-activatable mitochondria to study mitochondrial dynamics

Genesis. 2012 Nov;50(11):833-43. doi: 10.1002/dvg.22050. Epub 2012 Aug 11.


Many pathological states involve dysregulation of mitochondrial fusion, fission, or transport. These dynamic events are usually studied in cells lines because of the challenges in tracking mitochondria in tissues. To investigate mitochondrial dynamics in tissues and disease models, we generated two mouse lines with photo-activatable mitochondria (PhAM). In the PhAM(floxed) line, a mitochondrially localized version of the photo-convertible fluorescent protein Dendra2 (mito-Dendra2) is targeted to the ubiquitously expressed Rosa26 locus, along with an upstream loxP-flanked termination signal. Expression of Cre in PhAM( floxed) cells results in bright mito-Dendra2 fluorescence without adverse effects on mitochondrial morphology. When crossed with Cre drivers, the PhAM(floxed) line expresses mito-Dendra2 in specific cell types, allowing mitochondria to be tracked even in tissues that have high cell density. In a second line (PhAM(excised) ), the expression of mito-Dendra2 is ubiquitous, allowing mitochondria to be analyzed in a wide range of live and fixed tissues. By using photo-conversion techniques, we directly measured mitochondrial fusion events in cultured cells as well as tissues such as skeletal muscle. These mouse lines facilitate analysis of mitochondrial dynamics in a wide spectrum of primary cells and tissues, and can be used to examine mitochondria in developmental transitions and disease states.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Tracking
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Fibroblasts / metabolism
  • Gene Expression
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / genetics
  • Light
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, 129 Strain
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Mitochondria, Heart / metabolism
  • Mitochondria, Heart / physiology
  • Mitochondria, Heart / radiation effects
  • Mitochondrial Dynamics*
  • Myocytes, Cardiac / metabolism
  • Myocytes, Cardiac / radiation effects
  • Organ Specificity
  • Primary Cell Culture
  • Recombinant Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Recombinant Proteins / genetics
  • Staining and Labeling


  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins