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Nat Commun. 2015 Feb 17;6:6259. doi: 10.1038/ncomms7259.

Trans-mitochondrial coordination of cristae at regulated membrane junctions.

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Center for Mitochondrial and Epigenomic Medicine, The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104, USA.
MitoCare Center, Department of Pathology, Anatomy and Cell Biology, Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19107, USA.
Department of Physiology, Semmelweis University, P.O. Box 259, Budapest H-1444, Hungary.
Center for Pharmacogenomics, Department of Internal Medicine, Washington University School of Medicine, St Louis, Missouri 63110, USA.
Penn EM Resource Laboratory, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104, USA.


Reminiscent of bacterial quorum sensing, mammalian mitochondria participate in inter-organelle communication. However, physical structures that enhance or enable interactions between mitochondria have not been defined. Here we report that adjacent mitochondria exhibit coordination of inner mitochondrial membrane cristae at inter-mitochondrial junctions (IMJs). These electron-dense structures are conserved across species, resistant to genetic disruption of cristae organization, dynamically modulated by mitochondrial bioenergetics, independent of known inter-mitochondrial tethering proteins mitofusins and rapidly induced by the stable rapprochement of organelles via inducible synthetic linker technology. At the associated junctions, the cristae of adjacent mitochondria form parallel arrays perpendicular to the IMJ, consistent with a role in electrochemical coupling. These IMJs and associated cristae arrays may provide the structural basis to enhance the propagation of intracellular bioenergetic and apoptotic waves through mitochondrial networks within cells.

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