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Microsc Res Tech. 2013 Mar;76(3):237-41. doi: 10.1002/jemt.22158. Epub 2012 Nov 23.

String mitochondria in mouse soleus muscle.

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Electron Microscopy Facility, School of Medicine, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio 44106, USA.


Red myofibers in mouse soleus muscle have two spatially distinct populations of mitochondria: one where these organelles are disposed in large clusters just inside the sarcolemma and the other situated between the myofibrils. In most cases, the interfibrillar mitochondria (IFM), which are much smaller than the subsarcolemmal ones (SSM), are arranged as pairs, with each member on opposite sides of the Z-line. In some myofibers, the IFM have fused end-to-end to form greatly elongated organelles, which we call "string mitochondria." Although narrow, these can be many sarcomeres in length. The SSM do not form string mitochondria. Most of the string mitochondria exhibit many instances of "pinching," a process involved in mitochondrial division. Elements of sarcoplasmic reticulum are intimately involved with each mitochondrial membrane invagination. It appears as if the fusion:fission balance of IFM in the soleus muscle is slightly out of kilter, with end-to-end fusion predominating over fission.

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