Investigating the localisation of mitochondrial protein synthesis

Congratulations to Marie Curie REMIX PhD student Matt Zorkau and other members of the WCMR team on the preprint of their research that uses high resolution imaging to investigate mitochondrial protein synthesis in human cells. Here Matt tells us more.
Mitochondria possess their own genome, mitochondrial DNA, that encodes 13 core subunits of the oxidative phosphorylation machinery. It is not understood exactly where within mitochondria the important process of building these proteins takes place. My project aims to address this using a “click chemistry” labelling technique that adds fluorescent tags to newly synthesised mitochondrial-encoded proteins. High resolution fluorescence microscopy is then used to visualise where the proteins have been made.
The project initially used whole-cell imaging to identify where newly made mitochondrial proteins are found within the dynamic and interconnected mitochondrial network. Super resolution microscopy has since been used to locate the precise location of protein synthesis within individual mitochondria. By understanding how mitochondrial protein synthesis is organised in humans, valuable insights can be gained into how mitochondria structure and function are intertwined. Utilising the technique to investigate patient cell lines will also allow novel discoveries to be made regarding the pathogenesis of mitochondrial diseases.