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Trends Biochem Sci. 2002 Nov;27(11):564-72.

Mitochondria as we don't know them.

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  • 1Dept of Biochemistry and Cell Biology, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Utrecht University, PO Box 80176, The Netherlands. tielens@biochem.vet.uu.nl


Biochemistry textbooks depict mitochondria as oxygen-dependent organelles, but many mitochondria can produce ATP without using any oxygen. In fact, several other types of mitochondria exist and they occur in highly diverse groups of eukaryotes - protists as well as metazoans - and possess an often overlooked diversity of pathways to deal with the electrons resulting from carbohydrate oxidation. These anaerobically functioning mitochondria produce ATP with the help of proton-pumping electron transport, but they do not need oxygen to do so. Recent advances in understanding of mitochondrial biochemistry provide many surprises and furthermore, give insights into the evolutionary history of ATP-producing organelles.

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