What is it about?

Mitochondria are the cellular organelles where respiration occurs. Mitochondria positioning in the cell is vital to their function. One of the most remarkable mitochondrial organisation is in mammalian sperm where they are arranged in a tight spiral. We found that despite the diversity in mitochondrial size and internal structure, the molecular underpinnings of the mitochondrial spiral formation are conserved.

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Why is it important?

Malformation of the sperm mitochondrial spiral causes infertility. Our findings identified the molecular pins that are central to sperm mitochondria organisation. In addition, we provided important insight into sperm physiology and evolution that is also relevant for other polarised cell types, such as muscles, neurons, photoreceptors, and hair cells.


This work exemplifies the power of combining cellular cryoET with in-cell cross-linking mass spectrometry. We hope it will inspire others to apply this approach to gain molecular insight into the organisation of organelles in other terminally differentiated and polarised cell types.

Tzviya Zeev-Ben-Mordehai
Utrecht University

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: In-cell structures of conserved supramolecular protein arrays at the mitochondria–cytoskeleton interface in mammalian sperm, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, November 2021, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,
DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2110996118.
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