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J Cell Sci. 2012 Feb 15;125(Pt 4):807-15. doi: 10.1242/jcs.099234.

Mitochondria and cell signalling.

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Institute of Cancer Sciences, CR-UK Beatson Labs, University of Glasgow, Switchback Road, Glasgow, UK.


Mitochondria have long been considered as crucial organelles, primarily for their roles in biosynthetic reactions such as ATP synthesis. However, it is becoming increasingly apparent that mitochondria are intimately involved in cell signalling pathways. Mitochondria perform various signalling functions, serving as platforms to initiate cell signalling, as well as acting as transducers and effectors in multiple processes. Here, we discuss the active roles that mitochondria have in cell death signalling, innate immunity and autophagy. Common themes of mitochondrial regulation emerge from these diverse but interconnected processes. These include: the outer mitochondrial membrane serving as a major signalling platform, and regulation of cell signalling through mitochondrial dynamics and by mitochondrial metabolites, including ATP and reactive oxygen species. Importantly, defects in mitochondrial control of cell signalling and in the regulation of mitochondrial homeostasis might underpin many diseases, in particular age-related pathologies.

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