Mitochondrial Shape

  • Project Members:

    Dr. Ge Yang

    Dr. Chi-Ren Shyu

    Project Description:

    Mitochondria are membrane-bound organelles found in most eukaryotic cells. In addition to serving as the energy generator and distributor in cell metabolism, they play important signaling and regulation roles in many other essential biological processes. To serve the changing needs of dynamic cellular processes, mitochondria frequently undergo shape change and spatial redistribution. Mitochondria shape change is achieved primarily through fusion and fission and in mammalian cells is mediated by a number of fusion and fission proteins. Mitochondria spatial redistribution is achieved primarily through their active transport, including long distance transport by microtubule-associated motor protein kinesin and dynein and their short distance transport by actin-associated protein myosin. Mitochondria dynamics is critical to cellular function and is under tight regulation. Quantitative characterization of mitochondrial dynamics is critical to understanding mitochondria function and regulation, which, in turn, is critical to understanding cell metabolism and other related essential cellular and organismal processes.

    The main goal is to study the relation between the two essential aspects of mitochondria dynamics, namely shape change and spatial redistribution, by analyzing mitochondria shape under different genetic perturbations of kinesin and dynein in axonal transport of 3rd instar Drosophila larvae. Drosophila genetics provides a powerful tool for specific manipulation of different kinesin and dynein subunits that serve different functions in mediating mitochondria transport. Specific aims include the application of shape description approaches to characterize axonal mitochondria shapes and to correlate with the underlying genetic background of motor protein mutation; the application of shape change metrics to quantify dynamic mitochondria shape variations over time and to correlate with the underlying genetic background of motor protein mutation; and the application of pattern classification and machine learning techniques to correlate mitochondrial shape with functions of motor protein subunits.

    Eighty time-lapse fluorescence videos of mitochondria transport in dissected Drosophila larvae have been collected in wild type Mito-GFP flies and in several motor mutants. Video data will be analyzed to produce 2D point clouds describing mitochondria movement and distribution as well as 2D meshes describing individual mitochondria shape.


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