Why mitochondria must fuse to maintain their genome integrity

Antioxid Redox Signal. 2013 Aug 1;19(4):379-88. doi: 10.1089/ars.2012.4800. Epub 2013 Mar 28.


Significance: The maintenance of mitochondrial genome integrity is a major challenge for cells to sustain energy production by respiration.

Recent advances: Recently, mitochondrial membrane dynamics emerged as a key process contributing to prevent mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) alterations. Indeed, both fundamental and clinical data suggest that disruption of mitochondrial fusion, related to mutations in the OPA1, MFN2, PINK1, and PARK2 genes, leads to the accumulation of mutations in the mitochondrial genome.

Critical issues: We discuss here the possibility that mitochondrial fusion acts as a direct mechanism to prevent the generation of altered mtDNA and to eliminate mutated deleterious genomes either by trans-complementation or by mitophagy.

Future directions: Finally, we conclude this review with a short evolutionary comparison between the mechanisms involved in mitochondrial and bacterial modes of genome distribution and plasticity, highlighting possible common conserved processes required for the maintenance of their genome integrity, which should inspire our future investigations.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • DNA, Mitochondrial / genetics
  • Genome, Mitochondrial / genetics
  • Humans
  • Mitochondria / genetics*
  • Mitochondria / metabolism*
  • Mitochondrial Dynamics / genetics


  • DNA, Mitochondrial