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Fusion and Fission: Interlinked Processes Critical for Mitochondrial Health


Fusion and Fission: Interlinked Processes Critical for Mitochondrial Health

David C Chan. Annu Rev Genet.


Mitochondria are dynamic organelles that continually undergo fusion and fission. These opposing processes work in concert to maintain the shape, size, and number of mitochondria and their physiological function. Some of the major molecules mediating mitochondrial fusion and fission in mammals have been discovered, but the underlying molecular mechanisms are only partially unraveled. In particular, the cast of characters involved in mitochondrial fission needs to be clarified. By enabling content mixing between mitochondria, fusion and fission serve to maintain a homogeneous and healthy mitochondrial population. Mitochondrial dynamics has been linked to multiple mitochondrial functions, including mitochondrial DNA stability, respiratory capacity, apoptosis, response to cellular stress, and mitophagy. Because of these important functions, mitochondrial fusion and fission are essential in mammals, and even mild defects in mitochondrial dynamics are associated with disease. A better understanding of these processes likely will ultimately lead to improvements in human health.

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