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Keywords:

  • fission;
  • fusion;
  • metabolism;
  • mitochondrial dynamics;
  • signaling

Abstract

As endosymbionts, the mitochondria are unique among organelles. This review provides insights into mitochondrial behavior and introduces the idea of a unified collective, an interconnected reticulum reminiscent of the Borg, a fictional humanoid species from the Star Trek television series whereby decisions are made within their network (or “hive”), linked to signaling cascades that coordinate the cross-talk between mitochondrial and cellular processes (“subspace domain”). Similarly, mitochondrial dynamics are determined by two distinct processes, namely the local regulation of fission/fusion and the global control of their behavior through cellular signaling pathways. Indeed, decisions within the hive provide each mitochondrial unit with autonomous control of their own degradation, whereby mitochondrial fusion is inactivated and they become substrates for autophagy. Decisions within the subspace domain couple signaling pathways involved in the functional integration of mitochondria with complex cellular transitions, including developmental cues, mitosis, and apoptosis.