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Biochim Biophys Acta. 2010 Jan;1802(1):143-50. doi: 10.1016/j.bbadis.2009.09.005. Epub 2009 Sep 10.

Mitochondrial trafficking and morphology in neuronal injury.

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Department of Biological Sciences, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada V5A1S6.


Alterations in mitochondrial function may have a central role in the pathogenesis of many neurodegenerative diseases. The study of mitochondrial dysfunction has typically focused on ATP generation, calcium homeostasis and the production of reactive oxygen species. However, there is a growing appreciation of the dynamic nature of mitochondria within cells. Mitochondria are highly motile organelles, and also constantly undergo fission and fusion. This raises the possibility that impairment of mitochondrial dynamics could contribute to the pathogenesis of neuronal injury. In this review we describe the mechanisms that govern mitochondrial movement, fission and fusion. The key proteins that are involved in mitochondrial fission and fusion have also been linked to some inherited neurological diseases, including autosomal dominant optic atrophy and Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease 2A. We will discuss the evidence that altered movement, fission and fusion are associated with impaired neuronal viability. There is a growing collection of literature that links impaired mitochondrial dynamics to a number of disease models. Additionally, the concept that the failure to deliver a functional mitochondrion to the appropriate site within a neuron could contribute to neuronal dysfunction provides an attractive framework for understanding the mechanisms underlying neurologic disease. However, it remains difficult to clearly establish that altered mitochondrial dynamics clearly represent a cause of neuronal dysfunction.

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