Regulation and quantification of cellular mitochondrial morphology and content
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Mitochondria play a key role in signal transduction, redox homeostasis and cell survival, which extends far beyond their classical functioning in ATP production and energy metabolism. In living cells, mitochondrial content (“mitochondrial mass”) depends on the cell-controlled balance between mitochondrial biogenesis and degradation. These processes are intricately linked to changes in net mitochondrial morphology and spatiotemporal positioning (“mitochondrial dynamics”), which are governed by mitochondrial fusion, fission and motility. It is becoming increasingly clear that mitochondrial mass and dynamics, as well as its ultrastructure and volume, are mechanistically linked to mitochondrial function and the cell. This means that proper quantification of mitochondrial morphology and content is of prime importance in understanding mitochondrial and cellular physiology in health and disease. This review first presents how cellular mitochondrial content is regulated at the level of mitochondrial biogenesis, degradation and dynamics. Next we discuss how mitochondrial dynamics and content can be analyzed with a special emphasis on quantitative live-cell microscopy strategies.