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Mitochondrial fusion and fission in mammals.

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1
Division of Biology, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California, USA. dchan@caltech.edu

Abstract

Eukaryotic cells maintain the overall shape of their mitochondria by balancing the opposing processes of mitochondrial fusion and fission. Unbalanced fission leads to mitochondrial fragmentation, and unbalanced fusion leads to mitochondrial elongation. Moreover, these processes control not only the shape but also the function of mitochondria. Mitochondrial dynamics allows mitochondria to interact with each other; without such dynamics, the mitochondrial population consists of autonomous organelles that have impaired function. Key components of the mitochondrial fusion and fission machinery have been identified, allowing initial dissection of their mechanisms of action. These components play important roles in mitochondrial function and development as well as programmed cell death. Disruption of the fusion machinery leads to neurodegenerative disease.

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