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Mitochondrion. 2011 Sep;11(5):814-9. doi: 10.1016/j.mito.2010.11.002. Epub 2010 Dec 4.

Mitochondrial activity, embryogenesis, and the dialogue between the big and little brains of the cell.

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Molecular, Cellular & Developmental Biology & CU Teach, University of Colorado, Boulder, Boulder, CO 80309-0347, USA.


While it is clear that mitochondria play integral roles in cellular homeostasis, adaptation, cellular and survival, recent studies suggest possible roles for mitochondria as modulators of what were previously considered cytoplasmic/nuclear signaling systems. Embryonic patterning has been linked to asymmetries in mitochondria-based respiratory activity. As outlined by Coffman (2009), defining the role of mitochondria as modulators of embryonic patterning is inherently difficult, given their essential metabolic roles. This review attempts to place mitochondrial-transcription factor interactions in the context of the early development of the tetrapod Xenopus laevis, where a number of the proteins and signaling systems known to play critical roles in embryonic patterning, e.g. β-catenin, NF-κB, p53, and STAT3, have been found to localize to mitochondria.

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