The dynamic properties of mitochondria-including their fusion, fission, and degradation-are critical for their optimal function in energy generation. The interplay of fusion and fission confers widespread benefits on mitochondria, including efficient transport, increased homogenization of the mitochondrial population, and efficient oxidative phosphorylation. These benefits arise through control of morphology, content exchange, equitable inheritance of mitochondria, maintenance of high-quality mitochondrial DNA, and segregation of damaged mitochondria for degradation. The key components of the machinery mediating mitochondrial fusion and fission belong to the dynamin family of GTPases that utilize GTP hydrolysis to drive mechanical work on biological membranes. Defects in this machinery cause a range of diseases that especially affect the nervous system. In addition, several common diseases, including neurodegenerative diseases and cancer, strongly affect mitochondrial dynamics.
Keywords: mitochondrial dynamics; mitochondrial fission; mitochondrial fusion; mitophagy; neurodegeneration.