Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Power Tracks
26 June 2013

Power Tracks

Mitochondria are the power houses of our cells. The oval structures, 3000 times smaller than a coffee bean, sit inside the cell and are packed with tightly folded membranes called cristae (shown very highly magnified, in green). Here, chemical energy called ATP is generated and powers each and every cell. Each mitochondrion is built from over 600 different protein building-blocks and, like any manufacturing-site, if the mitochondrion is built incorrectly, it can’t function efficiently. Mistakes in a mitochondrial protein complex called MINOS cause heart problems and neurological disorders. To analyse the minutiae of mitochondria and understand how MINOS contributes to their structure, researchers have developed a super-resolution microscopy technique to locate the minute, but mighty MINOS. They found it clustered at the junctions of cristae (shown as orange dots) which arrange in a highly-ordered rail-like structure, 20 million times smaller than the average railway sleeper.

Written by Caroline Cross

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BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

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