Mitochondrial lipid transport at a glance

J Cell Sci. 2013 Dec 1;126(Pt 23):5317-23. doi: 10.1242/jcs.134130. Epub 2013 Nov 4.


Lipids are the building blocks of cellular membranes and are synthesized at distinct parts of the cell. A precise control of lipid synthesis and distribution is crucial for cell function and survival. The endoplasmic reticulum (ER) is the major lipid-synthesizing organelle. However, a subset of lipids is synthesized within mitochondria, and this aspect has become a focus of recent lipid research. Mitochondria form a dynamic membrane network that is reshaped by fusion and fission events. Their functionality therefore depends on a continuous lipid supply from the ER and the distribution of lipids between both mitochondrial membranes. The mechanisms of mitochondrial lipid trafficking are only now emerging and appear to involve membrane contact sites and lipid transfer proteins. In this Cell Science at a Glance article, we will discuss recent discoveries in the field of mitochondrial lipid trafficking that build on long-standing observations and shed new light on the shuttling of membrane lipids between mitochondria and other organelles.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Transport
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Endoplasmic Reticulum / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Humans
  • Lipid Metabolism*
  • Lipids / chemistry
  • Mitochondria / chemistry
  • Mitochondria / genetics
  • Mitochondria / metabolism*
  • Mitochondrial Membranes / chemistry
  • Mitochondrial Membranes / metabolism*
  • Mitochondrial Proteins / genetics
  • Mitochondrial Proteins / metabolism*
  • Peroxisomes / metabolism
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / genetics
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction


  • Lipids
  • Mitochondrial Proteins