Dynamic tubulation of mitochondria drives mitochondrial network formation

Cell Res. 2015 Oct;25(10):1108-20. doi: 10.1038/cr.2015.89. Epub 2015 Jul 24.


Mitochondria form networks. Formation of mitochondrial networks is important for maintaining mitochondrial DNA integrity and interchanging mitochondrial material, whereas disruption of the mitochondrial network affects mitochondrial functions. According to the current view, mitochondrial networks are formed by fusion of individual mitochondria. Here, we report a new mechanism for formation of mitochondrial networks through KIF5B-mediated dynamic tubulation of mitochondria. We found that KIF5B pulls thin, highly dynamic tubules out of mitochondria. Fusion of these dynamic tubules, which is mediated by mitofusins, gives rise to the mitochondrial network. We further demonstrated that dynamic tubulation and fusion is sufficient for mitochondrial network formation, by reconstituting mitochondrial networks in vitro using purified fusion-competent mitochondria, recombinant KIF5B, and polymerized microtubules. Interestingly, KIF5B only controls network formation in the peripheral zone of the cell, indicating that the mitochondrial network is divided into subzones, which may be constructed by different mechanisms. Our data not only uncover an essential mechanism for mitochondrial network formation, but also reveal that different parts of the mitochondrial network are formed by different mechanisms.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Line
  • GTP Phosphohydrolases
  • Humans
  • Kinesins / metabolism*
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism
  • Mitochondria / metabolism*
  • Mitochondria / ultrastructure*
  • Mitochondrial Dynamics*
  • Mitochondrial Proteins / metabolism
  • Rats


  • KIF5B protein, rat
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Mfn1 protein, rat
  • Mitochondrial Proteins
  • GTP Phosphohydrolases
  • Mfn2 protein, rat
  • Kinesins