Publication Type:Journal Article
Source:Biochim Biophys Acta, Volume 1787, Issue 11, p.1363-73 (2009)
Keywords:Animals, Biological Transport, Calcium, Cell Movement, Humans, Membrane Fusion, Mitochondria
In the Fifties, electron microscopy studies on neuronal cells showed that mitochondria typically cluster at synaptic terminals, thereby introducing the concept that proper mitochondria trafficking and partitioning inside the cell could provide functional support to the execution of key physiological processes. Today, the notion that a central event in the life of every eukaryotic cell is to configure, maintain, and reorganize the mitochondrial network at sites of high energy demand in response to environmental and cellular cues is well established, and the challenge ahead is to define the underlying molecular mechanisms and regulatory pathways. Recent pioneering studies have further contributed to place mitochondria at the center of the cell biology by showing that the machinery governing remodeling of mitochondria shape and structure regulates the functional output of the organelle as the powerhouse of the cell, the gateway to programmed cell death, and the platform for Ca(2+) signaling. Thus, a raising issue is to identify the cues integrating mitochondria trafficking and dynamics into cell physiology and metabolism. Given the versatile function of calcium as a second messenger and of the role of mitochondria as a major calcium store, evidences are emerging linking Ca(2+) transients to the modulation of mitochondrial activities. This review focuses on calcium as a switch controlling mitochondria motility and morphology in steady state, stressed, and pathological conditions.