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Summary

Distribution of mitochondria as well as other intracellular organelles in mammalian cells is regulated by interphase microtubules. Here, we demonstrate a role of microtubules in the mitochondrial biogenesis using various microtubule-active drugs and human osteosarcoma cell line 143B cells and rat liver-derived RL-34 cells. Depolymerization of microtubules by nocodazole or colchicine, as well as 2-methoxyestradiol, a natural estrogen metabolite, arrested asynchronously cultured cells in G(2)/M phase of cell cycle and at the same time inhibited the mitochondrial mass increase and mtDNA replication. These drugs also inhibited the mitochondrial mass increase in the cells that were synchronized in cell cycle, which should occur during G(1) to G(2) phase progression in normal conditions. However, stabilization of microtubules by taxol did not affect the proliferation of mitochondria during the cell cycle, yet a prolonged incubation of cells with taxol induced an abnormal accumulation of mitochondria in cells arrested in G(2)/M phase of cell cycle. Taxol-induced accumulation of mitochondria was not only demonstrated by mitochondria-specific fluorescent dyes but also evidenced by the examination of cells transfected with yellow fluorescent protein fused with mitochondrial targeting sequence from subunit VIII of human cytochrome c oxidase (pEYFP) and by enhanced mtDNA replication. Two subpopulations of mitochondria were detected in taxol-treated cells: mitochondria with high Delta(psi)(m), detectable either by Mito Tracker Red CMXRos or by Green FM, and those with low Delta(psi)(m), detectable only by Green FM. However, taxol-induced increases in the mitochondrial mass and in the level of acetylated (alpha)-tubulin were abrogated by a co-treatment with taxol and nocodazole or taxol and colchicine. These data strongly suggest that interphase microtubules may be essential for the regulation of mitochondrial biogenesis in mammalian cells.