Protein production in our cell power plants

Imaging of cells can be used to determine the localization of proteins. Mitochondria (shown in red) form a complex network in cultured cells. The cell nucleus is coloured in blue. A newly characterized protein of mitochondria is highlighted in green, whereby the yellow colour indicates that the protein localizes to mitochondria.

New models allow insights into the function and regulation of mitochondrial ribosomes

The research group of Prof. Dr. Nils-Göran Larsson at the Max Planck Institute for the Biology of Ageing in Cologne, in collaboration with researchers from Stockholm, has developed new models to investigate the composition of mitochondrial ribosomes in different tissues. The study was published in the journal Cell Reports.

All cells of our body need energy. This energy is harvested from food and converted into a form of chemical energy in cellular powerhouses called mitochondria. Mitochondria form complex structures in our cells and are composed of different molecules and more than 1000 different proteins. Only 13 of these proteins are produced in the mitochondria by specialized protein production machines, the mitochondrial ribosomes. Little is known about how these mitochondrial ribosomes are composed and how their function is regulated in tissues.

A team of researchers from Cologne and Stockholm has now developed new mouse models, the so-called MitoRibo-Tag mice. Using MitoRibo-Tag mice, Jakob D. Busch, former PhD student at the Max Planck Institute for Biology of Ageing, was able to isolate mitochondrial ribosomes from different tissues and to analyze their exact composition. The results are also relevant for medical research, as mistakes in the protein components of mitochondrial ribosomes can cause severe diseases in humans.    

The researchers hope to gain further insights into the tissue-specific regulation of mitochondrial ribosomes with the help of the new models. These could help to understand the activity and functions of mitochondrial ribosomes under different physiological conditions, human diseases and during ageing.

Original publication:

Jakob D. Busch, Miriam Cipullo, Ilian Atanassov, Ana Bratic, Eduardo Silva Ramos, Thomas Schöndorf, Xinping Li, Sarah F. Pearce, Dusanka Milenkovic, Joanna Rorbach, and Nils-Göran Larsson
MitoRibo-Tag Mice Provide a Tool for In Vivo Studies of Mitoribosome Composition
Cell Reports, November 2019

Learn more about the work in the Larsson Department.

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