Mitochondria are essential for energy metabolism in mammals. Although they are present in virtually all eukaryotic cells, very little is known about mitochondrial segregation during mitosis in mammals. Indeed, this process was long believed to be stochastic. Nonetheless, recent findings in yeast demonstrate that, when these cells are undergoing asymmetric cell division, mitochondrial sorting occurs, triggered by mechanisms that actively provide a subset of distinct mitochondria for each daughter cell. This process is implicated in aging and proliferation. Similar active addressing mechanisms have not been described in mammalian cells, and this is mainly due to the lack of an adequate model system to address this process. Here we propose that a good model to explore this question are skin stem cells, that, unlike many cells, can divide both symmetrically and asymmetrically. We will also address, using mouse embryonic fibroblasts, whether mitochondrial morphology is important for the segregation of these organelles and its impact on cell cycle progression. In this project, we will try to elucidate if mitochondria are partitioned differently in asymmetric and symmetric cell division in mammals, and also assess whether this event directly affects the fate acquired by skin stem cells during differentiation and its importance for cell cycle control.
News published in Agência FAPESP Newsletter about the scholarship: