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Endoplasmic reticulum-associated mitochondria–cortex tether functions in the distribution and inheritance of mitochondria

Lackner, Laura L., Ping, Holly, Graef, Martin, Murley, Andrew, Nunnari, Jodi
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 2013 v.110 no.6 pp. E458
cortex, endoplasmic reticulum, genes, mitochondria, proteins, viability
To elucidate the functional roles of mitochondrial dynamics in vivo, we identified genes that become essential in cells lacking the dynamin-related proteins Fzo1 and Dnm1, which are required for mitochondrial fusion and division, respectively. The screen identified Num1, a cortical protein implicated in mitochondrial division and distribution that also functions in nuclear migration. Our data indicate that Num1, together with Mdm36, forms a physical tether that robustly anchors mitochondria to the cell cortex but plays no direct role in mitochondrial division. Our analysis indicates that Num1-dependent anchoring is essential for distribution of the static mitochondrial network in fzo1 dnm1 cells. Consistently, expression of a synthetic mitochondria–cortex tether rescues the viability of fzo1 dnm1 num1 cells. We find that the cortical endoplasmic reticulum (ER) also is a constituent of the Num1 mitochondria–cortex tether, suggesting an active role for the ER in mitochondrial positioning in cells. Thus, taken together, our findings identify Num1 as a key component of a mitochondria–ER–cortex anchor, which we termed “MECA,” that functions in parallel with mitochondrial dynamics to distribute and position the essential mitochondrial network.