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Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity
Volume 2013, Article ID 351613, 10 pages
Review Article

Mitochondrial Signaling: Forwards, Backwards, and In Between

Department of General Surgery, University of Pittsburgh and VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System, F1200 PUH, 200 Lothrop Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15206, USA

Received 27 February 2013; Accepted 4 April 2013

Academic Editor: Sumitra Miriyala

Copyright © 2013 Sean P. Whelan and Brian S. Zuckerbraun. 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 are semiautonomous organelles that are a defining characteristic of almost all eukaryotic cells. They are vital for energy production, but increasing evidence shows that they play important roles in a wide range of cellular signaling and homeostasis. Our understanding of nuclear control of mitochondrial function has expanded over the past half century with the discovery of multiple transcription factors and cofactors governing mitochondrial biogenesis. More recently, nuclear changes in response to mitochondrial messaging have led to characterization of retrograde mitochondrial signaling, in which mitochondria have the ability to alter nuclear gene expression. Mitochondria are also integral to other components of stress response or quality control including ROS signaling, unfolded protein response, mitochondrial autophagy, and biogenesis. These avenues of mitochondrial signaling are discussed in this review.