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Traffic. 2001 Apr;2(4):235-44.

The many shapes of mitochondrial membranes.

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Department of Biological Chemistry, University of California, Los Angeles CA 90095, USA.


The roles of mitochondria in cell death and in aging have generated much excitement in recent years. At the same time, however, a quiet revolution in our thinking about mitochondrial ultrastructure has begun. This revolution started with the use of vital dyes and of green fluorescent protein fusion proteins, showing that mitochondria are very dynamic structures that constantly move, divide and fuse throughout the life of a cell. More recently, some of the first proteins contributing to these various processes have been discovered. Our view of the internal structures of mitochondria has also changed. Three-dimensional reconstructions obtained with high voltage electron microscopy show that cristae are often connected to the mitochondrial inner membrane by thin tubules. These new insights are brought to bear on the wealth of data collected by conventional electron microscopic analysis.

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