The structural basis for intermitochondrial communications is fundamentally different in cardiac and skeletal muscle.
Lavorato M., Formenti F., Franzini-Armstrong C.
NEW FINDINGS: What is the topic for this review? This review summarizes recent discoveries in mitochondrial development and morphology studied with electron microscopy. What advances does it highlight? Although mitochondria are generally considered to be isolated from each other, this review highlights recently discovered evidence for the presence of intermitochondrial communication structures in cardiac and skeletal muscle, in animal models and humans. Within striated muscles, the means of intermitochondrial exchange and the reaction of mitochondria to external stimuli are uniquely dependent on the tissue, and we clearly differentiate between nanotunnels, the active protrusion of cardiac mitochondria, and the connecting ducts of skeletal muscle derived from fusion-fission and elongation events. ABSTRACT: 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.