Mitochondria are tiny compartments within our cells that act as batteries, supplying the cell with the energy it needs to function. Amazingly mitochondria were once free-living organisms that were taken up by early ancestors of modern-day eukaryotes. As a relic of this time they contain their own genome, which codes for a small number of the mitochondrial proteins. The rest of the mitochondrial proteins however are carried by the much bigger genome in the nucleus of the cell. To make sure that the mitochondria function correctly, the activity of these two genomes has to be coordinated together. How this happens is not well understood. In work recently published in Genome Biology, the Sarkies lab developed new tools to investigate this question across healthy tissues and in cancer. They found that the coordination is surprisingly weak in most tissues. However, in cancer cells, coordination between mitochondrial and nuclear genome expression was much tighter, suggesting that this might be an important aspect in fueling cancer growth and therefore a possible avenue for cancer treatment.
Read more about this work here: Full paper on Genome Biology
Peter Sarkies Research Group
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