Research Topic

Mitochondrial Function in Context: Metabolic and Epigenetic Orchestration of Inter-Organelle Signaling

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Increasing attention is being devoted to the systems biology of metabolic signaling involving different cellular organelles and epigenetic regulation in different tissues from the organism. Mitochondria are dynamic organelles that interact between themselves and with other sub-cellular organelles, and ...

Increasing attention is being devoted to the systems biology of metabolic signaling involving different cellular organelles and epigenetic regulation in different tissues from the organism. Mitochondria are dynamic organelles that interact between themselves and with other sub-cellular organelles, and probably even across cells. These intra- and inter-cellular interrelations that may involve molecular exchanges, have broad basic and translational implications from gene-environment interactions to the determination or regulation of phenotypic outcomes. This is relevant in the context of human health, disease, aging and food production.

A central concept of the Topic’s theme is the convergence of these multiple facets on mitochondria as “communication” partners. Among the specific subjects that we would like to address are the role played by the mitochondrial network in the bidirectional interaction and signaling with other subcellular structures like the cytoskeleton, plasma and subcellular membrane, and organelles such as the nucleus, endoplasmic reticulum, lipid droplets, chloroplasts and peroxisomes. The topic will also include the impact of cellular metabolites including acetyl-CoA, ATP, and oxidative species on epigenetic changes and post-translational modifications including phosphorylation and oxidation of proteins and lipids. These changes, in turn, impact overall cellular energetics, gene expression and activation of signaling pathways, leading to changes in the turnover of cellular components (e.g., proteins, lipids, carbohydrates, nucleic acids) via autophagy/mitophagy, metabolic redirection, substrate selection, and the immune response.

The preservation and evolution of mitochondrial network energetic and signaling functions underlies the management and incidence of metabolic disorders, neurodegeneration, cancer and cardiovascular disease to affect human healthspan and healthy aging. The normal function of the mitochondrial network is also crucial in plant productivity and disease with direct impact on food production and quality. Collectively, progress in this area will have enormous societal, biomedical, and possibly evolutionary repercussions.


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