Complex multicellular life evolved from a symbiotic relationship with mitochondria. As a result, several regulatory processes within the cell and the organism − from differentiation to death − are influenced by mitochondrial signals.
Not unlike their bacterial ancestors, mitochondria also exchange molecular information and communicate with each other. This occurs through organelle fusion, mitochondrial nanotunnels, physical connections called inter-mitochondrial junctions (IMJs), and soluble molecules. Together, mitochondria are thought to form a functional network within the cell cytoplasm.
By understanding the behavior, language, and function of individual mitochondria, and especially their interactions with each other, we aim to understand principles that inform the function of mitochondrial networks, and their role the regulation of individual cells, and of the whole organism.
This work has implications for understanding basic biological processes
including gene expression regulation, clonal expansion of mtDNA defects,
and cellular aging trajectories.
"The organism is integrated into a larger system of information exchange […]. The brain and the rest of the organism are not qualitatively different in their ability to compute information, but show only qualitative differences in their purposiveness."
− Herbert Weiner, Perturbing the Organism (1992)
- Mitochondrial nanotunnels
Vincent AE, Turnbull DM, Hajnoczky G, Eisner V, Picard M. Trends Cell Biol 2017 (in press) PubMed PDF Suppl
- Mitochondrial synapses: Intracellular communication and signal integration
Picard M. Trends Neurosci 2015; 38(8):468-474 PubMed PDF
- Inter-mitochondrial coordination of cristae at regulated membrane junctions
Picard M, McManus MJ, Csordas G, Varnai P, Dorn GW, Williams D, Hajnoczky G, Wallace DC. Nat Commun 2015; 6:6259 PubMed PDF
- Progressive increase in mtDNA 3243A>G heteroplasmy results in abrupt transcriptional remodeling
Picard M, Zhang J, Hanecock S, Derbeneva O, Golhar R, Golik P, O’Hearn S, Levy SE, Potluri P, Lvova M, Davila A, Lin CS, Perin JC, Rappaport EF, Hakonarson H, Trounce I, Procaccio V, Wallace DC. PNAS 2014; 111(38):E4033;4042 PubMed PDF
- Mitochondria impact brain function and cognition
Picard M and McEwen BS. PNAS 2014; 111(1):7-8 [Commentary] PubMed PDF