UCLA scientists discover that cells contain mitochondria specialized to build fats

Mitochondria, known to most people as the “powerhouses of the cell,” have been recognized for decades as the cellular organelle where sugars and fats are oxidized to generate energy. Now, new research by UCLA scientists has found that not all mitochondria fit this definition. Within each cell a group of specialized mitochondria can be f ound attached to fat droplets. Rather than burn fat to create energy, these specialized mitochondria are responsible for providing the energy to build and store fat molecules.“This is really a whole new view of mitochondria and what they can do,” said lead author Dr. Orian Shirihai, a professor of medicine in endocrinology and pharmacology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. The finding,published in Cell Metabolism, may one day lead to new treatments for obesity, fatty liver and other metabolic diseases, he added.Mitochondria, small organelles that are present by the hundreds or thousands inside many types of cells, contain the molecular machinery for producing ATP, the molecule that stores energy in cells. Mitochondria within any given cell have always been considered uniform, said Shirihai, because they constantly merge and separate with each other in processes known as “fusion” and “fission,” respectively.In the past, researchers have noticed — when looking at cells under a microscope — that some mitochondria associate with lipid droplets, small clumps of fatty molecule...
Source: UCLA Newsroom: Health Sciences - Category: Universities & Medical Training Source Type: news

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