During Nutrient Stress
Cells are fantastic at adapting, and have evolved sophisticated mechanisms to maintain the health of their organelles in response to a variety of stressors. We are actively pursuing mechanisms by which cells maintain organelle function during amino acid stress. Our work in this area has led to our recent discovery of a new structure in cells called the Mitochondrial Derived Compartment, or MDC. MDCs are large, lumen containing compartments that form from mitochondria in response to nutrient stress. These structures are highly dynamic (see movie in banner above), and appear to function as sorting depots for selective removal of proteins from the mitochondrial network. MDCs are conserved from yeast to mammals, and our working hypothesis is that they help maintain optimal mitochondrial health in times of metabolic stress. Current work is focused on understanding the function of this pathway, elucidating the metabolic cues that regulate formation of these structures, and identifying the protein machinery that governs MDC formation.