Ten Gratifying Facts About Mitochondria

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1. Mitochondria are dynamic organelles.
• These organelles are found in animal and plant cells.
• From the Greek word “mitos” meaning thread and “chondrion” which means granules.
• Mitochondria are important in cellular metabolism.
• These are independent cells within a cell.
• They are able to change its shape as required by the cell and can reproduce, divide or grow larger as needed.
• Neurons demand high energy from cell body which is dependent on the function of the mitochondria.

2. Mitochondria is known as the powerhouse of the cells.

• Cells in the body use Adenosine triphosphate or ATPs (energy- rich molecules) for proper functioning which are produced in mitochondria.
• Mitochondria (mitochondrion in its singular form) supplies energy to the cell from the food you eat.
• This is made possible through conversion of chemical energy to cell energy using available oxygen within a cell.

3. Mitochondria cannot be found in red blood cells.

• Mitochondrial loss takes place when normoblast extrudes organelles (including nucleus).
• Mature red blood cells do not generate energy and functional RBCs produces energy via anaerobic process of fermentation (glycolysis of glucose and lactic acid production).
• Furthermore, it enables cell of the body to adapt to a higher heme level and high sugar phenomenon as a result of cellular oxidative process.

4. Mitochondria play an important role in lipid trafficking.
• Lipids are synthesized at distinct parts of the cell which is essential to build cellular membranes.
• Phospholipids serve to maintain membrane integrity of mitochondria.
• Its dynamic membrane network facilitates transfer of lipids between organelles.
• It also imports certain proteins for cell survival.

5. Mitochondria die when they are not needed.
• Apoptosis is a term used to describe a physiologic and programmed cell death.
• Cell changes and death may occur as a result of several biochemical events including cell shrinkage, nuclear fragmentation and decay.
• Mitochondria are suicide organelles. This is a controlled process which has an advantage for the cell’s life cycle

6. Mitochondria are countless in fat cells.

• Fat cells are specialized in storing energy as fats.
• They are also called adipose tissue or Adipocyte with two types; white adipose cells and brown adipose cells.
• Numerous mitochondria, large amount of cytoplasm and nucleus are contained in brown adipose cells.

7. Mitochondria have independent genome.
• Genome is the genetic makeup of an organism.
• In only a small portion, human mitochondrion encodes some DNA proteins of a cell and the rest is done by the nucleus.

8. Mitochondria are essential sites for steroid hormone synthesis.
• They are hormone sensitive.
• They also maintain membrane potential and help to regulate the signaling system of proteins for neurotransmitter hormone release.

9. Mitochondria serve as a temporary storage of calcium molecules.

• Mitochondria can take in calcium molecules rapidly for later use.
• They are closely physically associated with endoplasmic reticulum (another cell organelle).
• A significant interplay of the two with regard to calcium storage and synthesis entitles them for a symbiotic relationship.
• “Calcium buffers” act as modulators of chemical signals within a cell.

10. Mitochondria may undergo mutation that may cause potential defects and diseases.
• Defects in enzymes that controls DNA replication (encoding of genes in the nucleus) leads to functional problem mostly manifested as muscle disorders.
• Mitochondrial disorders are inherited or adverse effects of drugs and some environmental factors
• It may become apparent once mitochondrial threshold is reached.
• Moreover, disruptions in mitochondrial dynamics may lead to several neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

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