Skip to main page content
Access keys NCBI Homepage MyNCBI Homepage Main Content Main Navigation
, 51 (11), 549-556

Roles of Mitochondria in Neuronal Development


Roles of Mitochondria in Neuronal Development

Geurim Son et al. BMB Rep.


Mitochondria are ubiquitous and multi-functional organelles involved in diverse metabolic processes, namely energy production and biomolecule synthesis. The intracellular mitochondrial morphology and distribution change dynamically, which reflect the metabolic state of a given cell type. A dramatic change of the mitochondrial dynamics has been observed in early development that led to further investigations on the relationship between mitochondria and the process of development. A significant developmental process to focus on, in this review, is a differentiation of neural progenitor cells into neurons. Information on how mitochondria- regulated cellular energetics is linked to neuronal development will be discussed, followed by functions of mitochondria and associated diseases in neuronal development. Lastly, the potential use of mitochondrial features in analyzing various neurodevelopmental diseases will be addressed. [BMB Reports 2018; 51(11): 549-556].

Conflict of interest statement


The authors have no conflicting interests.


Fig. 1
Fig. 1
Mitochondrial proteins, functions and dynamics. (A) Major function of mitochondria is energy production through OXPHOS. Glycolysis occurring in the cytosol produce pyruvate, which is necessary to fuel the tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle. The pentose phosphate pathway (PPP) is a shunt for glycolysis. Through the PPP, cells acquire required components for other cellular processes including nucleotide synthesis. In mitochondria, beta-oxidation occurs as the other mechanism of converting lipid to generate energy. (B) Most proteins localized in the mitochondria are produced from the nuclear genome (nDNA) and transported into mitochondria. Mitochondria contain its own genome (mitochondrial DNA, mtDNA) and produce 13 proteins comprising oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) complex. (C) Dynamically changing morphology of mitochondria through continuous cycle of fusion and fission.
Fig. 2
Fig. 2
Mitochondrial features and bioenergetics during neuronal development. Neural stem cells (NSCs) and intermediate neural progenitor cells (NPCs, also referred to as IPCs) have self-renewing capacities. NSCs are differentiated into NPCs, which are then differentiated into neurons. The changes in mitochondrial morphology during neuronal development should be noted. In corticogenesis in developing brains (A), the mitochondrial morphology change from elongated structure to fragmented, then elongated again, followed by more complex structure due to further elongation. In adult hippocampal neurogenesis (B), the mitochondrial morphology changes from mixed globular and tubular structures to thin and elongated, then elongated more, followed by a wider and more complex structure due to further elongation. Level of glycolysis is decreased in both (A) and (B) when level of OXPHOS is increased along with neuronal differentiation.

Similar articles

See all similar articles

Cited by 3 PubMed Central articles


    1. Lunt SY, Vander Heiden MG. Aerobic Glycolysis: Meeting the Metabolic Requirements of Cell Proliferation. Annu Rev Cell Dev Biol. 2011;27:441–464. doi: 10.1146/annurev-cellbio-092910-154237. - DOI - PubMed
    1. Kuznetsov AV, Hermann M, Saks V, Hengster P, Margreiter R. The cell-type specificity of mitochondrial dynamics. Int J Biochem Cell Biol. 2009;41:1928–1939. doi: 10.1016/j.biocel.2009.03.007. - DOI - PubMed
    1. Yellen G. Fueling thought: Management of glycolysis and oxidative phosphorylation in neuronal metabolism. J Cell Biol. 2018;217:2235–2246. doi: 10.1083/jcb.201803152. - DOI - PMC - PubMed
    1. Novello F, McLean P. The pentose phosphate pathway of glucose metabolism. Measurement of the non-oxidative reactions of the cycle. Biochem J. 1968;107:775–791. doi: 10.1042/bj1070775. - DOI - PMC - PubMed
    1. Marin-Valencia I, Cho SK, Rakheja D, et al. Glucose metabolism via the pentose phosphate pathway, glycolysis and Krebs cycle in an orthotopic mouse model of human brain tumors. NMR Biomed. 2012;25:1177–1186. doi: 10.1002/nbm.2787. - DOI - PMC - PubMed

MeSH terms