MiP2005: Opening

Mitochondrial Physiology Network 10.9: 11 (2005) - download pdf


The future of mitochondrial physiology.

Guy C Brown

Dept. Biochem., University of Cambridge, Tennis Court Road, Cambridge CB2 1QW, UK. - gcb@mole.bio.cam.ac.uk

    It is not entirely clear what mitochondrial physiology is, but it may be the study of what mitochondria do.

A Brief  History of Mitochondrial Physiology:

1774:           Joseph Priestly & Antoine Lavoisier, discover oxygen and respiration.

1857:           Rudolph Kölliker, pioneer of light microscope, finds mitochondria in muscle.

1890:           Richard Altmann, develops mitochondrial stain, postulates genetic autonomy.

1898:           Carl Benda develops crystal violet as mitochondria-specific stain. Coins name.

1912:           Otto Warburg, identifies respiratory enzyme, crude mitochondrial isolation.

1923-1933:    David Keilin, identifies cytochromes and redox chain.

1940-1943:    Albert Claude, isolates intact liver mitochondria and microsomes.

1948-1951:    Albert Lehninger, locates β-oxidation, TCA and oxphos in mitochondria.

1952:           George Palade, uses EM to define inner, outer membranes and cristae.

1950’s:         Britton Chance, control of mitochondrial respiration.

1961:           Peter Mitchell, chemiosmotic theory.

1972:           Denham Harman, mitochondrial free radical theory of aging.

1974:           David Nicholls, mitochondrial proton leak regulates BAT heat production.

1981:           Lynn Margulis, endosymbiotic theory of mitochondrial origins.

1981:           Fred Sanger, mtDNA sequence

1986:           Kay Tanaka et al, first mtDNA diseases reported.

1996:           Xiaodong Wang, reports cytochrome c release central to apoptosis.


    I have no idea what the future of mitochondrial physiology is, but I am sure it will be as surprising and unpredictable as it’s past.  I will propose some wacky ideas about mitochondria, not because I necessarily think they are true, but because I don’t know that they are false.

Mitochondrial viruses: can viruses hang out in mitochondria?

Mitochondrial autonomy: can mitochondria exit and enter cells?

Mitochondrial identity crisis: can mitochondria fuse with other cell membranes?

Mitochondrial differentiation: cells differentiate and change state, do mitochondria?

Mitochondrial vibrations: is energy moved around by vibrational energy transfer?

Mitochondrial lightning: is the electric field large enough to cause ionization?

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