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International Journal of Cell Biology
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 821676, 10 pages
Review Article

Mitochondrial Dynamics: Functional Link with Apoptosis

Department of Molecular Biology, Graduate School of Medical Science, Kyushu University, Fukuoka 812-8582, Japan

Received 30 November 2011; Accepted 17 January 2012

Academic Editor: Lina Ghibelli

Copyright © 2012 Hidenori Otera and Katsuyoshi Mihara. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Mitochondria participate in a variety of physiologic processes, such as ATP production, lipid metabolism, iron-sulfur cluster biogenesis, and calcium buffering. The morphology of mitochondria changes dynamically due to their frequent fusion and division in response to cellular conditions, and these dynamics are an important constituent of apoptosis. The discovery of large GTPase family proteins that regulate mitochondrial dynamics, together with novel insights into the role of mitochondrial fusion and fission in apoptosis, has provided important clues to understanding the molecular mechanisms of cellular apoptosis. In this paper, we briefly summarize current knowledge of the role of mitochondrial dynamics in apoptosis and cell pathophysiology in mammalian cells.