Tubular network formation protects mitochondria from autophagosomal degradation during nutrient starvation

Angelika S. Rambold, Brenda Kostelecky, Natalie Elia, Jennifer Lippincott-Schwartz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

740 Scopus citations


Mitochondria are highly dynamic organelles that mediate essential cell functions such as apoptosis and cell-cycle control in addition to their role as efficient ATP generators. Mitochondrial morphology changes are tightly regulated, and their shape can shift between small, fragmented units and larger networks of elongated mitochondria. We demonstrate that mitochondrial elements become significantly elongated and interconnected shortly after nutrient depletion. This mitochondrial morphological shift depends on the type of starvation, with an additive effect observed when multiple nutrients are depleted simultaneously. We further show that starvation-induced mitochondrial elongation is mediated by down-regulation of dynamin-related protein 1 (Drp1) through modulation of two Drp1 phosphorylation sites, leading to unopposed mitochondrial fusion. Finally, we establish that mitochondrial tubulation upon nutrient deprivation protects mitochondria from autophagosomal degradation, which could permit mitochondria to maximize energy production and supply autophagosomal membranes during starvation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10190-10195
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number25
StatePublished - 21 Jun 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Autophagy
  • Mitofusin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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