New Northwestern Medicine research published in Nature Cell Biology has shown that mitochondria, traditionally known for their role creating energy in cells, also play an important role in hematopoiesis, the body’s process for creating new blood cells.
Historically, mitochondria are viewed as ATP — energy — producing organelles. But new research provided evidence that mitochondria can dictate cell function or fate independent of ATP production. We established the idea that mitochondria are signaling organelles.
In the current study researcher demonstrated that mitochondria control hematopoietic stem cell fate by preventing the generation of a metabolite called 2-hydroxyglutarate (2HG). The scientists showed that mice with stem cells deficient in mitochondrial function cannot generate blood cells due to elevated levels of 2HG, which causes histone and DNA hyper-methylation.