Bovine pulmonary artery endothelial cells stained with Molecular Probes' MitoTracker Red and SYTOX green nucleic acid stain
Fifty years ago, mitochondrial research was at the forefront of biology. The elucidation of the citric acid (Krebs) cycle, the mechanisms of oxidative phosphorylation, and the electron transport system (ETS) were arguably some of the most important breakthroughs in cellular biology. Soon interest waned, and the focus of research moved on to more exciting organelles and cellular processes. But recently interest has waxed anew as studies establish the importance of mitochondrial processes in signal transduction pathways, evolution, and genetic disease.
Part of the resurgence has focused on apoptotic events at the mitochondrial membrane. Members of the Bcl-2 family of proteins act in the pro- and antiapoptotic pathways by affecting protein transport across the mitochondrial membrane.
Lately, evolutionary research has also focused on the mitochondrion.1 The serial endosymbiosis...