Mitochondria are key organelles in conversion of energy, regulation of cellular signaling and amplification of programmed cell death. The anatomy of the organelle matches this functional versatility in complexity and is modulated by the concerted action of proteins that impinge on its fusion-fission equilibrium. A growing body of evidence implicates changes in mitochondrial shape in the progression of apoptosis and, therefore, proteins governing such changes are likely candidates for involvement in pathogenetic mechanisms in neurodegeneration and cancer. Here, we discuss the recent advancements in our knowledge about the machinery that regulates mitochondrial shape and on the role of molecular mechanisms controlling mitochondrial morphology during cell death. © 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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