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J Cell Biol. 2011 Jan 10;192(1):7-16. doi: 10.1083/jcb.201006159.

Making heads or tails of phospholipids in mitochondria.

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  • 1Institute for Genetics, Centre for Molecular Medicine, Cologne Excellence Cluster: Cellular Stress Responses in Aging-Associated Diseases, University of Cologne, Cologne, Germany.


Mitochondria are dynamic organelles whose functional integrity requires a coordinated supply of proteins and phospholipids. Defined functions of specific phospholipids, like the mitochondrial signature lipid cardiolipin, are emerging in diverse processes, ranging from protein biogenesis and energy production to membrane fusion and apoptosis. The accumulation of phospholipids within mitochondria depends on interorganellar lipid transport between the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and mitochondria as well as intramitochondrial lipid trafficking. The discovery of proteins that regulate mitochondrial membrane lipid composition and of a multiprotein complex tethering ER to mitochondrial membranes has unveiled novel mechanisms of mitochondrial membrane biogenesis.

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