When I think of mitochondria, I’m faced with a minor bout of nausea when I remember struggling to memorize all of the steps to oxidative phosphorylation during college. Although my college memories of Napster and the Y2K problem are clearer than those of the citric acid cycle, I know how important mitochondria are. A recent paper describes how mitochondria are anchored throughout the cell.
Mitochondria are organelles that provide metabolic energy to the cell. Depending on the energy needs in different regions of the cell, mitochondria move around using actin- and microtubule-based motors and then anchor themselves in place. A recent paper describes how intermediate filaments bind mitochondria to regulate their distribution and anchor them within the cell. Intermediate filaments provide mechanical strength in many cell types by forming rope-like networks of filaments, and are frequently made of a protein called vimentin. Nekrasova and colleagues found that in cells lacking vimentin, mitochondria were highly mobile within the cell. Images above show the colocalization of mitochondria (purple) and vimentin intermediate filaments (green) in mammalian cells. Middle and right images are higher magnification frames of the boxed regions.Nekrasova, O., Mendez, M., Chernoivanenko, I., Tyurin-Kuzmin, P., Kuczmarski, E., Gelfand, V., Goldman, R., & Minin, A. (2011). Vimentin intermediate filaments modulate the motility of mitochondria Molecular Biology of the Cell, 22 (13), 2282-2289 DOI: 10.1091/mbc.E10-09-0766