In the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, mitochondria are elongated organelles which form a reticulum around the cell periphery. To determine the mechanism by which mitochondrial shape is established and maintained, we screened yeast mutants for those defective in mitochondrial morphology. One of these mutants, mmm1, is temperature-sensitive for the external shape of its mitochondria. At the restrictive temperature, elongated mitochondria appear to quickly collapse into large, spherical organelles. Upon return to the permissive temperature, wild-type mitochondrial structure is restored. The morphology of other cellular organelles is not affected in mmm1 mutants, and mmm1 does not disrupt normal actin or tubulin organization. Cells disrupted in the MMM1 gene are inviable when grown on nonfermentable carbon sources and show abnormal mitochondrial morphology at all temperatures. The lethality of mmm1 mutants appears to result from the inability to segregate the aberrant-shaped mitochondria into daughter cells. Mitochondrial structure is therefore important for normal cell function. Mmm1p is located in the mitochondrial outer membrane, with a large carboxyl-terminal domain facing the cytosol. We propose that Mmm1p maintains mitochondria in an elongated shape by attaching the mitochondrion to an external framework, such as the cytoskeleton.

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