Department of Genetics
KAUL 740B Zip 0024
Phone: (205) 996-4178
Exploring the significance of mitochondrial structural change in health and disease
Mitochondria are the cellular organelles that became the seat of energy production and intermediary metabolism during the course of evolution of eukaryotic cells. They are also crucial players in redox balance, calcium homeostasis, lipid modification and regulation of cell death in various developmental contexts. In various cells mitochondrial structure has been found to be dynamic. They exist in different inter-convertible forms resulting from fission-fusion events between individual mitochondria, significance of which is far from clear. My long term interest lies in understanding the structure-function relationship of these multifunctional organelles. A set of proteins that govern either fusion or fission of mitochondrial inner and outer membranes have been characterized and it is their activities that decide the steady state mitochondrial morphology in a cell; when fission dominates mitochondria remain as small fragmented elements and when fusion dominates mitochondria remain coalesced into larger hyperfused forms. We use various kinds of biochemical, cell biological, microscopy and genetic tools to understand the significance of mitochondrial dynamism in cell proliferation. Specifically we want to understand if the mitochondrial fission-fusion proteins can regulate cell proliferation in stem cells or deregulate it during tumorigenesis.