Keeping mitochondria in shape: a matter of life and death
In the last twenty years, mitochondrial ultrastructural and morphological changes as well as the interactions between mitochondria and other cellular organelles have been implied in the control of several physiological and pathological processes, including the progression of apoptosis, inflammation, differentiation, tumorigenesis. However, the role of mitochondrial dynamics and interactions with other organelles in the control of complex cellular cues and in response to reversible and irreversible cellular damage has not been clarified. We will overview the key experiments that shed light on the role of mitochondrial shape, ultrastructure and interactions with other organelles in cell physiology, pathology and in disease. We will also offer an account of the efforts of our lab to clarify the areas that warrant further investigation.


Luca Scorrano (b. 1971) earned an MD and PhD from U. of Padua, Italy. From 2000 to 2003 he joined the lab of Stan Korsmeyer at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School, Boston (USA) as HFSP postdoctoral fellow. In 2003 he was appointed Assistant Scientist of the Dulbecco-Telethon Institute. In 2006 he was recruited as Full Professor at University of Geneva Medical School (Switzerland), a post that he held until 2013 when he was recruited as “Outstanding Recognition (Chiara fama)” Professor of Biochemistry at U. of Padua, Italy. From 2014 to 2020, he served as Scientific Director of the Veneto Institute of Molecular Medicine. Luca discovered the cristae remodeling pathway, which propelled the field of mitochondrial dynamics. His lab elucidated the molecular mechanisms governing cristae shape and remodeling as well as the regulation of mitochondrial fusion and fission. He shed light on the influence of mitochondrial shape on bioenergetics and on processes such as angiogenesis, heart biology, adipocyte differentiation, Toxoplasma infection, and cancer. His lab identified the first molecular tether between endoplasmic reticulum and mitochondria and the role of alternative splicing of Mitofusin 2 in this tethering process, driving the blossoming membrane contact sites field. Luca is an elected member of EMBO and Academia Europaea. He received several awards including the 2006 Eppendorf European Young Investigator Award, the 2013 European Society for Clinical Investigation Award for Excellence in Research, the 2024 Research Achievement Award of the International Society for Heart Research (ISHR).
Date: 8 March 2024, 13:00 (Friday, 8th week, Hilary 2024)
Venue: Sherrington Library, off Parks Road OX1 3PT
Venue Details: Sherrington Building
Speaker: Professor Luca Scorrano (University of Padua, Italy)
Organising department: Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics (DPAG)
Organisers: Dr Mootaz Salman (DPAG, University of Oxford), Associate Professor Samira Lakhal-Littleton (DPAG, University of Oxford)
Organiser contact email address:
Host: Associate Professor Robin Klemm (DPAG, University of Oxford)
Part of: DPAG Head of Department Seminar Series
Booking required?: Not required
Audience: Members of the University only
Editor: Hannah Simm