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The structural basis for intermitochondrial communications is fundamentally different in cardiac and skeletal muscle

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Manuela Lavorato, Federico Formenti, Clara Franzini-Armstrong

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)606-612
Number of pages7
JournalExperimental Physiology
Issue number4
Early online date19 Mar 2020
Accepted/In press22 May 2019
E-pub ahead of print19 Mar 2020
Published1 Apr 2020


King's Authors


This review focuses on recent discoveries in skeletal and cardiac muscles indicating that mitochondria behave as an interactive cohort with inter‐organelle communication and specific reactions to stress signals. Our new finding is that intermitochondrial communications in cardiac and skeletal muscles rely on two distinct methods. In cardiac muscle, mitochondria are discrete entities and are fairly well immobilized in a structural context. The organelles have developed a unique method of communication, via nanotunnels, which allow temporary connection from one mitochondrion to another over distances of up to several micrometres, without overall movement of the individual organelles and loss of their identity. Skeletal muscle mitochondria, in contrast, are dynamic. Through fusion, fission and elongation, they form connections that include constrictions and connecting ducts (distinct from nanotunnels) and lose individual identity in the formation of extensive networks. Connecting elements in skeletal muscle are distinct from nanotunnels in cardiac muscle.

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