Mitochondria are the power plants of cells, manufacturing fuel so a cell can perform its many tasks, and also are well known for their role in cell death. School of Medicine researchers and colleagues have shown that mitochondria also orchestrate events that determine a cell’s future, at least in the embryonic mouse heart. The study identifies new potential genetic culprits in the origins of some congenital heart defects. Shown is an image of a normal heart.
School of Medicine researchers have described a missing link in understanding how damage to the body’s cellular power plants leads to Parkinson’s disease and some forms of heart failure. A mouse heart, in gray, shows signs of heart failure because it is missing a newly discovered key molecule in the process that culls unhealthy mitochondria from cells. Superimposed on the heart is a fruit fly heart tube, shown in color. It shows signs of failure because it is missing another key molecule in mitochondrial quality control.