What is mitochondria and where is it located?

Mitochondria are the energy producers in the cell. They produce it through the process known as cellular respiration and it is where Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) is made, a molecule that constitutes the main source of energy usable by the cell to perform its functions.

Mitochondria synthesize ATP from glucose, fatty acids and amino acids. They do not have a defined structure since they are easily deformed but are normally elongated. Apart from energy production, mitochondria are related to the processes of cell communication, cell differentiation and Apoptosis or programmed cell death, but they also have control over the cell cycle and cell growth.

The number of mitochondria in a cell varies widely. For example, erythrocytes, or red blood cells, do not contain mitochondria, but liver cells have about 2,000. Mitochondria have several parts:

  • Outer mitochondrial membrane.
  • Inner mitochondrial membrane.
  • Intermembranous space.
  • Golgi apparatus

It is the organelle that receives proteins and lipids from the endoplasmic reticulum and where the compilation of all the substances that the cell expels to the lysosomes or through the plasma membrane takes place.

The Golgi apparatus completes the manufacture of some proteins and packages others by covering them with a membrane before being sent to their destination, “labeling” these proteins to send them where they belong both inside and outside the cell. Its main functions are: -Protein modification. -Cellular secretion. -Plasma membrane production. -Formation of lysosomes. As part of traffic management, the Golgi apparatus is essential in the secretion of substances that are expelled from the cell. It has three parts:

  • cis-Golgi region.
  • Region medial.
  • Trans-Golgi Region.
  • Lysosomes

They are spherical vesicles that contain hydrolytic enzymes that facilitate the assimilation of substances by making them smaller. Additionally, they are responsible for eliminating waste by digestion of unwanted substances through the cytoplasm. Lysosomes protect the cell from foreign bodies such as viruses and bacteria and even digest parts of the cell that are discarded as organelles that are replaced. These organelles contain more than 60 different enzymes that come from the Rough Endoplasmic Reticulum and serve to perform their functions of breaking down and digesting biomolecules.

Cells are made up of different organelles, each responsible for completing a particular function. One of the most important activities within the cell is the production of energy, on which the entire cellular machinery depends on keeping it running.

There are two main types of cells: eukaryotic and prokaryotic. Each one works differently, and in eukaryotes, the type of cell we have, energy production depends on the mitochondria. If you want to know more about this important organelle, we invite you to continue reading this BIOencyclopedia article in which you will learn what the mitochondria is, its function and its structure .

What is mitochondria and where is it located?

The mitochondria is a cellular organelle, found within eukaryotic cells , that is, in cells that have a true nucleus. Now, if you are wondering where mitochondria are found in relation to the type of organism, they are found in animal, plant and fungal cells . The number of mitochondria can vary from cell to cell, determined by the function of the tissue. For example, muscles have many mitochondria because of the amount of energy they require.

Mitochondria function

The mitochondria is known as the engine of the cell, and its main function is the production of energy . In fact, 90% of chemical energy is produced here. This energy is produced in the form of ATP, which can be used by the cell. Now, the energy production process is not isolated, but is made up of two events:

  • The production of energy.
  • cellular respiration.

These processes work together. For this, oxidation and reduction reactions of metabolic molecules are carried out using enzymatic complexes, whose electrons will be introduced to an electron transport chain. This generates a force called proton motive force, which means that it promotes a flow of protons in an electrochemical gradient, producing as a result the chemical energy called ATP, which is what is used by enzymes to carry out their activities.

It is important to mention that these processes have several intermediate metabolic routes to complete the aforementioned events, but here we summarize and simplify them so that you can understand them well. In any case, below we quickly mention some of the metabolic routes that occur in the mitochondria so that you become familiar with the topic:

  • Beta-oxidation: fatty acids are fragmented to obtain acetylcoenzyme A, NADH and FADH2. The former will be introduced into the Krebs cycle, and the latter will enter the electron transport chain in respiration.
  • Krebs cycle: chemical energy and CO2 are released from lipids, proteins and carbohydrates.
  • Oxidative phosphorylation: It is the last step of the electron chain, where an electron gradient is formed. Oxygen is here as the final electron acceptor for the final ATP to be synthesized.

Mitochondria structure

To better understand this organelle, we present the parts of the mitochondria.

  • Outer mitochondrial membrane: delimits the mitochondria from the outside. It consists of a bilipid layer, which implies that it is made up of two layers of lipids, which are accommodated by their ability to repel water.
  • Inner mitochondrial membrane: it is the inner face of the mitochondria and is also a bilipid layer. Within it there are complex enzymatic inserts, which serve to carry out the processes of the mitochondria.
  • Intermembranous space: between the inner and outer membrane there is a space, in which there are several enzymes, molecules and a large number of protons that result from the transport chain.
  • Mitochondrial matrix: this is the place inside the mitochondria, delimited by the inner membrane. This is where the Krebs cycle occurs. It is rich in enzymes and functional proteins. At the same time, it serves as a support medium for the other internal mitochondrial components, such as mitochondrial ribosomes and the DNA of this organelle. It is viscous in consistency.
  • Mitochondrial ridges: they are folds formed in the inner membrane that amplify the area of ​​the mitochondria, thus increasing its productivity for the electron transport chain, since this is where oxidative phosphorylation of the respiratory chain occurs.
  • Mitochondrial DNA, mitogenome or mtDNA: the mitochondria are very special because they have their own DNA. This is circular, and is always inherited from the mother, unlike the rest of the genome, which is the result of a combination between the DNA of the mother and the father.
  • Mithorribosomes: are mitochondrial ribosomes that have the function of synthesizing proteins through genetic translation.
  • Porins: are small pores in the outer membrane that allow communication between the mitochondria and the outside world. It only allows small molecules, such as ions or sugars, to pass through.
  • Enzymes: the mitochondria works thanks to the multiple enzymes it has to complete particular functions.

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