Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology

Mitochondrial morphology transitions and functions: implications for retrograde signaling?

Martin Picard, Orian S. Shirihai, Benoit J. Gentil, Yan Burelle


In response to cellular and environmental stresses, mitochondria undergo morphology transitions regulated by dynamic processes of membrane fusion and fission. These events of mitochondrial dynamics are central regulators of cellular activity, but the mechanisms linking mitochondrial shape to cell function remain unclear. One possibility evaluated in this review is that mitochondrial morphological transitions (from elongated to fragmented, and vice-versa) directly modify canonical aspects of the organelle's function, including susceptibility to mitochondrial permeability transition, respiratory properties of the electron transport chain, and reactive oxygen species production. Because outputs derived from mitochondrial metabolism are linked to defined cellular signaling pathways, fusion/fission morphology transitions could regulate mitochondrial function and retrograde signaling. This is hypothesized to provide a dynamic interface between the cell, its genome, and the fluctuating metabolic environment.

  • mitochondrial dynamics
  • morphology
  • fusion and fission
  • bioenergetics
  • retrograde signaling
View Full Text