Mechanical force induces mitochondrial fission

Sebastian Carsten Johannes Helle, Qian Feng, Mathias J. Aebersold, Luca Hirt, Raphael R. Grüter, A. Vahid Belarghou, Andrea Sirianni, Serge Mostowy, Jess G. Snedeker, Anđela Šarić, Timon Idema, Tomaso Zambelli, Benoît Kornmann*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

82 Citations (Scopus)
82 Downloads (Pure)


Eukaryotic cells are densely packed with macromolecular complexes and intertwining organelles, continually transported and reshaped. Intriguingly, organelles avoid clashing and entangling with each other in such limited space. Mitochondria form extensive networks constantly remodeled by fission and fusion. Here, we show that mitochondrial fission is triggered by mechanical forces. Mechano-stimulation of mitochondria - via encounter with motile intracellular pathogens, via external pressure applied by an atomic force microscope, or via cell migration across uneven microsurfaces - results in the recruitment of the mitochondrial fission machinery, and subsequent division. We propose that MFF, owing to affinity for narrow mitochondria, acts as a membrane-bound force sensor to recruit the fission machinery to mechanically strained sites. Thus, mitochondria adapt to the environment by sensing and responding to biomechanical cues. Our findings that mechanical triggers can be coupled to biochemical responses in membrane dynamics may explain how organelles orderly cohabit in the crowded cytoplasm.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere30292
Pages (from-to)1-26
Number of pages26
Publication statusPublished - 9 Nov 2017


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