Tiny thermometer measures how mitochondria heat up the cell by unleashing proton energy

ScienceDaily | 8/29/2019 | Staff
Kota79Kota79 (Posted by) Level 4
Mitochondria, the cell's power stations, release quick bursts of heat by unleashing the power stored in an internal proton "battery," the researchers found. Better understanding of this process could point to new targets for treating obesity and cancer, they say.

Led by mechanical science and engineering professor Sanjiv Sinha, they published their findings in the Nature journal Communications Biology.

Heat - Part - Mitochondria - Role - Center

"Producing heat is part of the mitochondria's role in the center of metabolism activity," Sinha said. "It needs to produce the energy currency that's used for the activities in the cell, and heat is one of the byproducts, in most cases. But there is a mechanism that can ramp this process up to produce more heat when the body needs it. That's what fat cells do when they're in need of heat when the body's temperature goes down."

To better understand this ramping up of heat output, the researchers developed a tiny, fast-read thermometer probe to internally measure temperature inside of living cells. The mechanical design proved challenging: It had to be long enough to reach a cell under a microscope, but small enough in diameter not to harm the cell or disrupt its internal processes.

Temperature - Probe - Tongue - Cell - Sinha

"Think about how we take temperature with a probe under our tongue. We are essentially doing the same, but inside a single cell," Sinha said. "And we wanted to be very fast to measure what's happening. Things happen inside the cell very quickly. It's like, if you're taking a young child's temperature, you need to do it very quickly, or they will move and it won't be accurate."

Sinha's group collaborated with researchers from the lab of Rhanor Gillette, a professor emeritus of molecular and integrative physiology at Illinois, to test the probe in a mitochondria-rich strain of neurons. They induced the mitochondria to produce heat using methods established by...
(Excerpt) Read more at: ScienceDaily
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