|Mitochondria in Alzheimer Disease: Pulling the Plug on the Synapse
Zheng Li and colleagues provide compelling data and discussion to confirm the growing suspicion that proper mitochondrial structure and function are requisite for synaptic operation. Indeed, it is not only mitochondrial function that is important, but also the location of these organelles. Through the use of transfected dynamin family GTPases (Drp1 and OPA1), which regulate mitochondrial fission and distribution, Morgan Sheng’s group demonstrate that the localization of presynaptic mitochondria are a limiting factor in synapse creation and maintenance. In addition, their data suggest that neuronal activity also contributes to region-specific mitochondrial allocations (Li et al., 2004).
While the role of mitochondria in the dendritic spine and synapse remain open for definitive explorations, their ATP-manufacturing and calcium-regulating properties may support the necessary microenvironment for spine and synapse activity. However, as the authors remind us, knowledge about mitochondrial movement and...