We are discussing the lipids and proteins which make up the membranes in cells in lecture. One of the most bizarre membrane proteins is called the mitochondrial permeability transition pore (mPTP). This is a cluster of proteins which connect the inner mitochondrial membrane with the outer mitochondrial membrane and forms a pore. The pore only forms briefly under extreme cell stress conditions and essentially really messes up the mitochondria so that it reverses its function, and begins consuming ATP which usually kills the cell. In many cases this activity leads to apoptosis also called programmed cell death. This drastic measure often occurs after local cellular stress or stress of internal organs like during a heart attack. Just like Jason Bourne in the Bourne Identity, the identity of the mitochondria is difficult to determine, it is a unique mystery organelle in many ways, and like Bourne, it commits violence when stressed out....or is it that it commits violence to protect itself? Just what could the mitochondria be protecting?
1 What are the different ways that a cell can die?
2 What is apoptosis? What are its benefits?
3 What would be the advantage to having the vital energy producing organelle also double as a death organelle?
4 Considering the idea that the mitochondria is a specialized internal bacterium, are there parallels in function between mitochondria and extracellular free living bacteria with respect to energy production and promotion of cell death?