Register for Mechanobiology 2016!

Mitochondria and cell signalling
Stephen W. G. Tait, Douglas R. Green


Mitochondria have long been considered as crucial organelles, primarily for their roles in biosynthetic reactions such as ATP synthesis. However, it is becoming increasingly apparent that mitochondria are intimately involved in cell signalling pathways. Mitochondria perform various signalling functions, serving as platforms to initiate cell signalling, as well as acting as transducers and effectors in multiple processes. Here, we discuss the active roles that mitochondria have in cell death signalling, innate immunity and autophagy. Common themes of mitochondrial regulation emerge from these diverse but interconnected processes. These include: the outer mitochondrial membrane serving as a major signalling platform, and regulation of cell signalling through mitochondrial dynamics and by mitochondrial metabolites, including ATP and reactive oxygen species. Importantly, defects in mitochondrial control of cell signalling and in the regulation of mitochondrial homeostasis might underpin many diseases, in particular age-related pathologies.


  • This article is part of a Minifocus on Mitochondria. For further reading, please see related articles: ‘PINK1- and Parkin-mediated mitophagy at a glance’ by Seok Min Jin and Richard J. Youle (J. Cell Sci. 125, 795-799) and ‘Mitochondrial redox signalling at a glance’ by Yvonne Collins et al. (J. Cell Sci. 125, 801-806).

  • Funding

    The authors are supported by ALSAC/St. Jude, and by grants from the US National Institutes of Health to D.R.G. S.T. is a Royal Society University Research Fellow. Deposited in PMC for release after 12 months.

View Full Text