In vitro and in vivo assays for mitochondrial fission and fusion

Methods Cell Biol. 2020:155:491-518. doi: 10.1016/bs.mcb.2019.11.010. Epub 2019 Dec 10.


Mitochondria are required for cell survival and are best known for their role in energy production. These organelles also participate in many other biological processes that are critical for cellular function, and thus, play a central role in cellular life and death decisions. In a majority of cell types, mitochondria form highly dynamic, reticular networks. Maintaining the shape of these complex, ever-changing networks is critical for mitochondrial and cellular function, and requires the conserved activities of mitochondrial fission and fusion. Great advances in our knowledge about the molecular machines that mediate these dynamic activities have been made over the past 2 decades. These advances have been driven by the use of highly complementary in vitro and in vivo approaches that have proven extremely powerful for studying the complex membrane remodeling processes that drive fission and fusion of the organelle. In this chapter, we detail current methods used to examine the mechanisms and regulation of mitochondrial fission and fusion in vitro and in vivo.

Keywords: Mitochondrial division; Mitochondrial dynamics; Mitochondrial fission; Mitochondrial fusion.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Assay / methods*
  • Chromatography, Affinity
  • Dynamins / isolation & purification
  • Dynamins / metabolism
  • Dynamins / ultrastructure
  • Fluorescence
  • Guanosine Triphosphate / metabolism
  • HeLa Cells
  • Humans
  • Liposomes
  • Mice
  • Mitochondria / metabolism
  • Mitochondrial Dynamics*
  • Photobleaching


  • Liposomes
  • Guanosine Triphosphate
  • Dnm1l protein, mouse
  • Dynamins