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Nature. 2015 Jul 30;523(7562):617-20. doi: 10.1038/nature14614.

Mitochondrial reticulum for cellular energy distribution in muscle.

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National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20892, USA.
National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20892, USA.


Intracellular energy distribution has attracted much interest and has been proposed to occur in skeletal muscle via metabolite-facilitated diffusion; however, genetic evidence suggests that facilitated diffusion is not critical for normal function. We hypothesized that mitochondrial structure minimizes metabolite diffusion distances in skeletal muscle. Here we demonstrate a mitochondrial reticulum providing a conductive pathway for energy distribution, in the form of the proton-motive force, throughout the mouse skeletal muscle cell. Within this reticulum, we find proteins associated with mitochondrial proton-motive force production preferentially in the cell periphery and proteins that use the proton-motive force for ATP production in the cell interior near contractile and transport ATPases. Furthermore, we show a rapid, coordinated depolarization of the membrane potential component of the proton-motive force throughout the cell in response to spatially controlled uncoupling of the cell interior. We propose that membrane potential conduction via the mitochondrial reticulum is the dominant pathway for skeletal muscle energy distribution.

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