Cover Story Current Issue

Alterations in mitochondrial structure and function are commonly observed in adult-onset neurodegenerative diseases. In ALS, mitochondrial dysfunction impairs the efficiency of electron transport chain (ETC) activity and ATP production and leads to the accumulation of reactive oxygen and nitrogen species, abnormal handling of intracellular calcium and cytochrome C release and apoptosis. The extent to which these alterations in mitochondrial functionimpair cellular operations is unclear. Therapeutic intervention based on combating these mitochondrial abnormalities have displayed variable success in mouse models of ALS and humans, as reviewed in Vandoorne et al.

Sean-Patrick Riechers, Jelena Mojsilovic-Petrovic, Tayler B. Belton, Ram P. Chakrabarty, ... Robert G. Kalb

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Current Issue

Organelle transporters and inter-organelle communication as drivers of metabolic regulation and cellular homeostasis

Aakriti Jain, Roberto Zoncu

Background

Spatial compartmentalization of metabolic pathways within membrane-separated organelles is key to the ability of eukaryotic cells to precisely regulate their biochemical functions. Membrane-bound organelles such as mitochondria, endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and lysosomes enable the concentration of metabolic precursors within optimized chemical environments, greatly accelerating the efficiency of both anabolic and catabolic reactions, enabling division of labor and optimal utilization of resources. However, metabolic compartmentalization also poses a challenge to cells because it creates spatial discontinuities that must be bridged for reaction cascades to be connected and completed. To do so, cells employ different methods to coordinate metabolic fluxes occurring in different organelles, such as membrane-localized transporters to facilitate regulated metabolite exchange between mitochondria and lysosomes, non-vesicular transport pathways via physical contact sites connecting the ER with both mitochondria and lysosomes, as well as localized regulatory signaling processes that coordinately regulate the activity of all these organelles.

Scope of review

This review covers how cells use membrane transporters, membrane contact sites, and localized signaling pathways to mediate inter-organelle communication and coordinate metabolism. We also describe how disruption of inter-organelle communication is an emerging driver in a multitude of diseases, from cancer to neurodegeneration.

Major conclusions

Effective communication among organelles is essential to cellular health and function. Identifying the major molecular players involved in mediating metabolic coordination between organelles will further our understanding of cellular metabolism in health and lead us to design better therapeutics against dysregulated metabolism in disease.

Organelle transporters and inter-organelle communication as drivers of metabolic regulation and cellular homeostasis

Aakriti Jain, Roberto Zoncu

Background

Spatial compartmentalization of metabolic pathways within membrane-separated organelles is key to the ability of eukaryotic cells to precisely regulate their biochemical functions. Membrane-bound organelles such as mitochondria, endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and lysosomes enable the concentration of metabolic precursors within optimized chemical environments, greatly accelerating the efficiency of both anabolic and catabolic reactions, enabling division of labor and optimal utilization of resources. However, metabolic compartmentalization also poses a challenge to cells because it creates spatial discontinuities that must be bridged for reaction cascades to be connected and completed. To do so, cells employ different methods to coordinate metabolic fluxes occurring in different organelles, such as membrane-localized transporters to facilitate regulated metabolite exchange between mitochondria and lysosomes, non-vesicular transport pathways via physical contact sites connecting the ER with both mitochondria and lysosomes, as well as localized regulatory signaling processes that coordinately regulate the activity of all these organelles.

Scope of review

This review covers how cells use membrane transporters, membrane contact sites, and localized signaling pathways to mediate inter-organelle communication and coordinate metabolism. We also describe how disruption of inter-organelle communication is an emerging driver in a multitude of diseases, from cancer to neurodegeneration.

Major conclusions

Effective communication among organelles is essential to cellular health and function. Identifying the major molecular players involved in mediating metabolic coordination between organelles will further our understanding of cellular metabolism in health and lead us to design better therapeutics against dysregulated metabolism in disease.

2021 impact factor: 7.422

The 60 Second Metabolist

In this section authors briefly report on their work recently published in Molecular Metabolism.

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