Without energy, metabolism collapses; aerobic metabolism in eukaryotes requires mitochondria. In medical school, in ancient days, our study rooms displayed large charts explaining the Krebs mitochondrial tricarboxylic acid cycle, like religious icons to be venerated . I was imprinted with the importance of those “good & plenty”- appearing mitochondrial organelles, and this month I am reminded of them by a trio of publications.
First was the triparental egg conceived in Great Britain (sorry for the pun) as treatment for a maternal mitochondrial genetic defect. Sperm are really important, half the world might say, but so packed with DNA and motile mechanisms that, alas, there is no room for mitochondria. Thus, maternal mitochondria have overtaken the world. The popular press went gaga over this triparental fertilized ova.
The second mitochondrial event was the publication in JID by Kloepper and coworkers on the role of mouse mitochondria transcription factor A (TFAM) in Keratin 14 positive cells in hair development. Absense of TFAM was associated with decreased hair density and altered hair morphogenesis, although epidermal development was intact.
Finally, the trifecta (March JID pages 657 for the commentary and 807 for the article by Chang and colleagues): levels of mitchondrial malic enzyme 2 (“Me Too”, to its selfie friends), during the progression from nevi to melanoma. Such new findings may lead to new drugs aimed at ME2 and — ultimately — melanoma.
Salute a mitochondria daily in March.