March is Mitochondria Month for Melanoma and Hair—A Trifecta

A photograph of a box of Good & Plenty Candy

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.

3 thoughts on “March is Mitochondria Month for Melanoma and Hair—A Trifecta

  1. I am also member of the mitochondria fanclub. Mitochondria are the most exciting organelle in the field of translational dermatology/medecine not only for hair and melanoma, but also in wound healing and in many inflammatory dermatoses, like psoriasis. One of the in West-Europe popular systemic therapy for psoriasis is dimethylfumarate, which exerts its effects in mitochondria and is metabolized in the Krebs cycle. it is now also registered for the use in relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis. This pluripotency is all due to these fascinating organelles, the mitochondria.


  2. The society for investigative dermatology meeting in Atlanta would be a great place and opportunity to get the friends of mitochondria(FOM) together to increase the buzz and presentations on this topic.


  3. Mitochondria continue to be a hot topic. see 17 April 2015,SCIENCE, pages 340-343. Stemlike cells from cultured mammary epithelium when they divide sort their mitochondria asymmetrically with the “stem-like’ daughter cell getting more than its fair share of young mitochondria. Ponce de Leon was looking outwardly for the fountain of youth, he should have looked inward. There may be a general message there.


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