Abnormal Mitochondria Might Cause Resistance to Radiation Therapy

Mitochondria. Credit: Judith Stoffer.
Bean-shaped mitochondria are cells’ power plants. The highly folded inner membranes are the site of energy generation. Credit: Judith Stoffer. View larger image

Why some cancers are resistant to radiation therapy has baffled scientists, but research on abnormalities in mitochondria, often described as cells’ power plants, could offer new details. A research team led by Maxim Frolov Exit icon of the University of Illinois at Chicago learned that the E2F gene, which plays a role in the natural process of cell death, contributes to the function of mitochondria. Fruit flies with a mutant version of the E2F gene had misshapen mitochondria that produced less energy than normal ones. Flies with severely damaged mitochondria were more resistant to radiation-induced cell death. Studies using human cells revealed similar effects. The work could help explain why people with cancer respond differently to radiation therapy and might aid the development of drugs that enhance mitochondrial function, thereby improving the effectiveness of radiation therapy.

This work also was funded by NIH’s National Cancer Institute.

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2 Replies to “Abnormal Mitochondria Might Cause Resistance to Radiation Therapy”

  1. hi there i’m stuck on a question on my bio assesment the question is

    You have been sent a sample of human body cells from a patient suspected to have an illness linked to misshapen mitochondria. Which microscope would you use to diagnose this and WHY.

    i really think it is electron but can’t figure out why please could you give me some pointers or anything would be very much appreciated thank you.

  2. Thank you for your comment. Scientists use a variety of tools to study cellular structures, as highlighted in one of our Inside Life Science articles. You might also find Chapter 1 of our Inside the Cell publication helpful, as it includes detailed historical and technical information about various scientific tools, such as the electron microscope.

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