Mitochondria are the main energy producers in eukaryotic cells; they produce ATP through cellular respiration. Also they have multiple other functions among which is their role in apoptosis (programmed cell death). It is generally agreed upon that repression of apoptosis is one of the fundamental steps in tumor genesis. Cancer cells are unresponsive to apoptosis facilitating signals, therefore proliferate uncontrollably. Monitoring changes in mitochondrial membrane potential can provide crucial information of mitochondrial function and their role in apoptosis and cancer development.
Currently available technologies are more suitable for measuring the changes in average membrane potential of a large population of mitochondria. We are working on new devices and methods for monitoring membrane potential in a much smaller number of mitochondria. So far we have developed an electrochemical on-chip method to measure mitochondrial membrane potential in a microfluidic environment which is able to measure the average potential of an ensemble of mitochondria with concentrations up to five orders of magnitude smaller than what is required for conventional assays.
Funding source: NIH.
For more information please refer to:
Tae-Sun Lim, Antonio Davila Jr, Katayoun Zand, Douglas C. Wallace and Peter J. Burke “Wafer-scale mitochondrial membrane potential assays” Lab Chip, 2012, 2719-2725, DOI:10.1039/C2LC40086C.
Tae-Sun Lim, Antonio Dávila, Douglas C. Wallace and Peter Burke”Assessment of mitochondrial membrane potential using an on-chip microelectrode in a microfluidic device” Lab on a Chip, DOI: 10.1039/c001818j (2010)