Mitochondrial involvement in cell death of non-mammalian eukaryotes

Eltyeb Abdelwahid, Stephane Rolland, Xinchen Teng, Barbara Conradt, J. Marie Hardwick, Kristin White*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


Although mitochondria are essential organelles for long-term survival of eukaryotic cells, recent discoveries in biochemistry and genetics have advanced our understanding of the requirements for mitochondria in cell death. Much of what we understand about cell death is based on the identification of conserved cell death genes in Drosophila melanogaster and Caenorhabditis elegans. However, the role of mitochondria in cell death in these models has been much less clear. Considering the active role that mitochondria play in apoptosis in mammalian cells, the mitochondrial contribution to cell death in non-mammalian systems has been an area of active investigation. In this article, we review the current research on this topic in three non-mammalian models, C. elegans, Drosophila, and Saccharomyces cerevisiae. In addition, we discuss how non-mammalian models have provided important insight into the mechanisms of human disease as they relate to the mitochondrial pathway of cell death. The unique perspective derived from each of these model systems provides a more complete understanding of mitochondria in programmed cell death. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled Mitochondria: the deadly organelle.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)597-607
Number of pages11
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta - Molecular Cell Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2011


  • Apoptosis
  • C. elegans
  • Drosophila
  • Mitochondria
  • Yeast

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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