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Keywords:

  • mitochondria;
  • cellular biology;
  • molecular biology;
  • molecular visualization;
  • textbook diagrams;
  • energy metabolism;
  • apoptosis;
  • programmed cell death;
  • endosymbiont hypothesis

Abstract

Diverse biological data may be used to create illustrations of molecules in their cellular context. I describe the scientific results that support a recent textbook illustration of a mitochondrion. The image magnifies a portion of the mitochondrion by one million times, showing the location and form of membranes and individual macromolecules, revealing the molecular basis of its role in energy metabolism and apoptosis. Results from biochemistry, electron microscopy, and X-ray crystallography were used to create the image.