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Mighty Mitochondria

Updated: Jun 8, 2023


After reading about mitochondria, the electron transport chain, and the ATP synthase rotor pump, I became very interested about the amazing energy producing abilities of living cells. I was also very impressed that the diagrams in our textbook depicting the ATP synthase rotor pump, are fairly accurate representations of the actual physical structure of this complex protein in cells. After searching a bit about recent research regarding the energy producing abilities of mitochondria, I came across an article on which says that mitochondria work a lot like a Tesla battery.

Previously, science believed that mitochondria worked a lot like a household battery. Scientists thought that mitochondria worked as a single chemical reaction house in which one mitochondria equals one battery. But recent studies have been finding that mitochondria actually are an array of many small "batteries" within one mitochondria. The way this works is that each cristae is separate and if something such as polarity damage occurs to one cristae, the other cristae continue to work within a single mitochondria.

A professor at UCLA, named Dr. Orian Shirihai, and his colleagues have been recently developing novel approaches to view mitochondria at a resolution that we've never been able to view before. They developed a way to optimize high resolution microscopy to see the inside of mitochondria and actually be able to watch what is going on. This is something that we have never been able to do before.

They saw for the first time that groups of proteins actually separate the cristae within the mitochondria, allowing for more energy production per organelle. This is very exciting news, and it seems that researchers in electric battery development are excited about this coevolution of the discovery of the inner workings of cellular batteries as well. It is believed that Dr. Shirihai's discoveries can help further understanding of topics as fundamental as aging and disease. Reference:


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