Fusion and fission: interlinked processes critical for mitochondrial health

Annu Rev Genet. 2012;46:265-87. doi: 10.1146/annurev-genet-110410-132529. Epub 2012 Aug 29.

Abstract

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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis
  • DNA, Mitochondrial / genetics
  • DNA, Mitochondrial / metabolism
  • Dynamins / genetics
  • Dynamins / metabolism
  • GTP Phosphohydrolases / genetics
  • GTP Phosphohydrolases / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Membrane Proteins / genetics
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Mitochondria / genetics
  • Mitochondria / metabolism
  • Mitochondria / physiology*
  • Mitochondrial Diseases / metabolism
  • Mitochondrial Diseases / pathology*
  • Mitochondrial Membranes / metabolism*
  • Mitochondrial Size
  • Mitochondrial Turnover*
  • Mitosis
  • Mutation

Substances

  • DNA, Mitochondrial
  • Membrane Proteins
  • GTP Phosphohydrolases
  • OPA1 protein, human
  • Dnm1l protein, mouse
  • Dynamins