MDI Biological Laboratory

New Findings Shed Light on Mitochondrial Function

  • February 15, 2024

Research on mitochondrial function in Drosophila published in the journal Life Science Alliance.

Mitochondria are cellular structures vital for the body’s energy production that feature two membranes—an outer smooth membrane and an intricately folded inner membrane with well-organized pouches known as cristae. Extensive folding of the cristae plays a pivotal role in mitochondrial function, and aberrations in this architecture are linked to various human diseases, including neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, and metabolic disorders such as diabetes.

Drosophila, or fruit flies, under the microscope

Drosophila (fruit flies), under the microscope.

This research focuses on a crucial protein called MIC10 that regulates proper cristae folding in many species, including humans and Drosophila fruit flies. The study identifies the major MIC10 protein in Drosophila,  revealing that its deficiency disrupts the architecture of mitochondrial cristae, leading to a shorter lifespan and reduced fertility. But intriguingly, the over expression of Drosophila MIC10 results in the protein’s thread-like aggregation within mitochondria, a phenomenon not observed with MIC10 homologs in other species. These findings shed light on the intricate mechanisms governing mitochondrial function and highlight the species-specific characteristics of MIC10.

Contributions to the project by MDI Bio Lab lead investigator Halyna Shcherbata, Ph.D., and Senior Research Scientist Travis Carney, Ph.D. involved in vivo analyses of lifespan and fertility, tissue dissections for immunofluorescence and electron microscopy, and testing a new anti-MIC10 antibody in Drosophila tissues.

Read the article in Life Science Alliance.