NIH Research Festival
Mitochondria are specialized cellular compartments that function in energy production and calcium homeostasis. However, their bioenergetics in live multicellular organisms is still unknown. To address this question, we used Intravital Subcellular Microscopy (ISMic), an imaging approach that enables the visualization of biological processes in live animals. Previously in rat salivary glands, we discovered that: 1) mitochondrial metabolic activity exhibits rapid and periodic oscillations under basal conditions, and 2) mitochondrial oscillations are synchronized throughout the salivary epithelium via gap junctions. Importantly, dysfunctional mitochondrial oscillations are linked to many metabolic diseases, thus prompting us to ask: i) what is the physiological role of mitochondrial oscillations and ii) how oscillations are orchestrated at the whole organismal level. Here, we extended our characterization in rat and mouse tissues under both physiological and pathological conditions. Under basal conditions, we found that mitochondrial oscillations occur in all tissues tested, although with substantial differences in their period, amplitude, and coordination, that most likely reflect the metabolic status of the tissue analyzed. In addition, we discovered that the modality of the metabolic oscillations is significantly altered in aged mice and during tumor progression in a mouse model for head and neck squamous cell carcinoma. In conclusion, we provided for the first time a detailed quantitative analysis of the characteristics of the metabolic oscillations under basal conditions, which can be served as a baseline to study these processes during pathological states.
Scientific Focus Area: Cancer Biology
This page was last updated on Friday, March 26, 2021