Mitochondrial: Powerhouse of the Cells

Mitochondria is also known as powerhouse of the cells for a good reason. Even if DNA is packaged in chromosomes inside of the nucleus, mitochondria also has a small amount of its own DNA and this material is commonly referred to as mitochondrial DNA or mtDNA. Simply put, the key role of Mitochondrial DNA is to convert energy coming from food into a form that can be used by the body’s cells. Mitochondrial DNA undergoes a process of oxidative phosphorylation. There are other functions that this powerhouse is known for like its role in producing substances like cholesterol and heme. In the case of heme, it is a basic component of hemoglobin which carries oxygen in the blood. Mitochondrial DNA has 37 genes which are all important for the normal function of the mitochondria. Since mitochondria generates energy our cells can do their job better.

Mitochondrial DNA generates chemical energy like that of the energy found in batteries. Mitochondria produces ATP which is short for Adenosine Triphosphate. In order to make ATP, mitochondria needs what is referred to as electron transport chain. The complicated process of transforming energy undergoes several stages and it all happens inside this cell. The first stage of this complex process is when the food is consume. Much later food taken in will moved across the inner mitochondrial membrane. It is said that for each of the cycle of the electron transport chain, there are more than 30 ATPs produce. This also proves how efficient energy generation is within the mitochondria. In order for the body to be in a state of health and in its optimum condition it needs to be closely monitored.

Mitochondrial DNA helps to preserve this kind of environment conducive for the systems of the body to function. There was a time when mitochondria is not found inside a cell. Back during the day, the powerhouse of the cells can stand on its own. In order to survive, mitochondria forms a relationship with other organisms so that they can both benefit from the said relationship. One of these two has the ability to produce energy while the other protects them both from predators. This setup lasted for billions of years and has allowed the existence of multi-celled life forms that later on become bigger and has produce more complex cells. The earliest life on this planet has survive when it broke down compounds in a less than complicated process better known as fermentation. The process of fermentation does not require oxygen in order to survive. At the same period of time, a new type of cell was developing that can use light to produce energy much like those use by plants in photosynthesis.

It was also during this period when all life on earth has adapted to survive and has exist within this change in environment. An organism referred to as Rickettsia prowazekii which is given a nickname Ricke has survive by attaching itself to a bigger host. The host cell begin to survive because of its relationship with Ricke where one produce the energy needed while the other one protected the other from predatory cells much like those found in the mutual benefit relationship previously describe earlier. Ricke evolve and later on become known as Mitochondrial DNA. This latest evolution has made the mitochondria not being able to survive as an independent organism because it needs a host cell to carry out its full function. There is still a function that mitochondria has retain and that is to produce energy. The present day mitochondrial DNA was believe to be in the shape of a baked bean when observe under a microscope. These has two membranes which one serving as protective covering. A DNA found within a chromosome is better known as Mitochondrial DNA. This particular DNA helps to determine the physical features like eye color, hair color, height and different components such as protein. This has made cells and bodies work.

This emphasis on Mitochondrial DNA makes ones ask the question how vitally important to make proteins produce energy. DNA contains chromosome from both parents but, in the case of Mitochondrial DNA this is different than these. The implication of this is that since children inherit their entire mitochondrial DNA from their mothers this means only women can pass on any forms of mutations within the DNA that can cause disease. Mitochondria is bounded by a double membrane that contains phospholipid with embedded proteins. The cells of the body is affected if the percentage of the mutation exceeds its limit. This is referred to as its threshold. This can be anywhere from 50 to 60 percent where the cell will show signs of dysfunction. This explains the presence of mitochondrial disease that includes damage to cellular structures that produce energy. For those who has this kind of disease, it is progressive and can cause death depending on the prognosis.  Some of the most common kinds of mitochondrial disease includes Kearns Sayre syndrome, stroke like diseases and other complications. Some of the symptoms of having this kind of disease includes muscle weakness, exercise intolerance, dementia and movement disorders.

In the case of exercise or activity intolerance, muscles become fatigue and weak. Some other discomforts associated with this condition are nausea, headache and breathlessness. These are usually present at birth. Some parts of the body affected by this disease are those that require an extra demand for energy. These includes the brain, heart, liver, kidney and muscle. The effects place a higher demand on those commonly use more often like in the case of brain cells. It is unfortunate that this kind of disease does not have any known cure. The only way for sufferers to find relief is to treat symptoms like seizures with medication. It was found out that following a special diet can help depending on which part of the respiratory chain is affected. Generic testing is made on the blood, muscle and urine to point out the exact mutation who is responsible for specific kinds of disease. Nutritional supplements such as those found in vitamins and co-factors are useful in patients that has certain deficiencies.