The cell biology of mitochondrial membrane dynamics

Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol. 2020 Apr;21(4):204-224. doi: 10.1038/s41580-020-0210-7. Epub 2020 Feb 18.


Owing to their ability to efficiently generate ATP required to sustain normal cell function, mitochondria are often considered the 'powerhouses of the cell'. However, our understanding of the role of mitochondria in cell biology recently expanded when we recognized that they are key platforms for a plethora of cell signalling cascades. This functional versatility is tightly coupled to constant reshaping of the cellular mitochondrial network in a series of processes, collectively referred to as mitochondrial membrane dynamics and involving organelle fusion and fission (division) as well as ultrastructural remodelling of the membrane. Accordingly, mitochondrial dynamics influence and often orchestrate not only metabolism but also complex cell signalling events, such as those involved in regulating cell pluripotency, division, differentiation, senescence and death. Reciprocally, mitochondrial membrane dynamics are extensively regulated by post-translational modifications of its machinery and by the formation of membrane contact sites between mitochondria and other organelles, both of which have the capacity to integrate inputs from various pathways. Here, we discuss mitochondrial membrane dynamics and their regulation and describe how bioenergetics and cellular signalling are linked to these dynamic changes of mitochondrial morphology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Membrane Fusion / physiology
  • Mitochondria / metabolism*
  • Mitochondrial Dynamics / physiology*
  • Mitochondrial Membranes / metabolism*
  • Mitochondrial Membranes / physiology
  • Mitochondrial Proteins / metabolism
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational
  • Signal Transduction


  • Mitochondrial Proteins