Yeast and humans might look pretty different, but the similarities of their mitochondria make yeast a good model organism to study human mitochondrial diseases. In an Advanced Online Publication in Nature genetics, Steinmetz et al. demonstrate how a functional genomics approach in Saccharomycescerevisiae can identify genes involved in mitochondrial respiratory functions that might be related to the hundreds of human mitochondrial diseases for which no candidate genes have been found (Nat Genet 22 July 2002, doi:10.1038/ng929).

The authors used the yeast deletion collection to screen systematically around 10,000 strains for survival and fitness under a range of experimental growth conditions. They identified a large number of the genes known to be important for mitochondrial function. The screen identified many new genes, some of which encode mitochondrial proteins, whereas others may be important for integrating mitochondria into the cellular network. Steinmetz et al. found human orthologs for many...

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