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Mitochondrial Dynamics: Mechanisms and Pathologies

  1. Hakjoo Lee,
  2. Yisang Yoon

Published Online: 15 JUN 2012

DOI: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0021867



How to Cite

Lee, H. and Yoon, Y. 2012. Mitochondrial Dynamics: Mechanisms and Pathologies. eLS. .

Author Information

  1. University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, Rochester, New York, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 JUN 2012


Mitochondrial dynamics, a cellular process describing continuous change of shape and location of mitochondria, has drawn much attention recently due to its involvement in cell injury and human pathologies. Mitochondrial fission and fusion are the major processes that alter mitochondrial morphology. Molecular machineries for mitochondrial fission and fusion include proteins of dynamin family large GTPases that remodel biological membranes. Mutations in these proteins cause hereditary diseases or death in human, indicating that mitochondrial fission and fusion are important cellular processes. Identification of additional factors participating in mitochondrial fission and fusion still continues. Recent studies demonstrate that mitochondrial fission/fusion process is under tight regulation through cellular signalling networks and functional states of mitochondria. This information suggests that cellular cues both extrinsic and intrinsic to mitochondria regulate mitochondrial fission and fusion, indicating an important role of mitochondrial fission and fusion in controlling mitochondrial functionality. Many additional pathologies are associated with aberrant mitochondrial fission and fusion, and defining the form–function relationship of mitochondria will be the key for understanding disease aetiology and therapeutic application.

Key Concepts:

  • Mitochondria take a variety of shapes depending on cell types and activities.

  • Fission and fusion of mitochondria are the main processes changing their morphology.

  • Dynamin-related proteins (DRPs) remodel mitochondrial membranes for fission and fusion.

  • Additional proteins and factors including signal-induced protein modifications participate in mitochondrial fission and fusion.

  • Mutations in genes in mitochondrial fission and fusion are detrimental to human health.

  • Many diseases such as neurodegeneration, metabolic diseases, ischemia-reperfusion injury, heart diseases, and aging are directly and indirectly associated with dysregulation of mitochondrial fission and fusion.


  • mitochondria;
  • mitochondrial dynamics;
  • fission;
  • fusion;
  • dynamin;
  • dynamin-related proteins;
  • apoptosis;
  • pathology;
  • neurodegeneration