Course Identification

Mitochondria, metabolism, and bioenergetics

Lecturers and Teaching Assistants

Dr. Guy Las, Prof. Atan Gross

Course Schedule and Location

Second Semester
Tuesday, 09:15 - 12:00, FGS, Rm 1

Field of Study, Course Type and Credit Points

Life Sciences: Lecture; Elective; Core; 3.00 points
Life Sciences (Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience Track): Lecture; Elective; Core; 3.00 points
Life Sciences (Computational and Systems Biology Track): Lecture; Elective; Regular; 3.00 points


Will be taught via Zoom starting April 19th.
The course consists of oral presentations given by experts in the field of mitochondrial study, followed by a presentation given by the students on an article on a related subject.


Basic biochemistry



Language of Instruction


Attendance and participation

Required in at least 80% of the lectures

Grade Type

Numerical (out of 100)

Grade Breakdown (in %)


Evaluation Type


Scheduled date 1


Scheduled date 2


Estimated Weekly Independent Workload (in hours)




Mitochondria play several roles in eukaryotes: they serve as main suppliers of energy; they are involved in apoptosis, in calcium homeostasis and in iron homeostasis. During the respiratory process, mitochondria produce reactive oxygen species (ROS), which can induce mutations in the mitochondrial DNA, leading to gradual deterioration of tissue function, that is reflected in the ageing process and in diseases associated with aging such as-diabetes, Parkinson and cancer.  The present course will provide a panorama of the physiology of mitochondria, along with its different functions in the cell, emphasizing the contribution of damaged mitochondria to disease.


The course intends to provide an up-to-date overview of the field

of mitochondrial research in health and disease.  


1. Teach the students about the centrality of mitochondrial research in various fields

of research of biology.

2. Provide tools for understanding and appreciating studies in cellular biology in general and in mitochondrial research in particular.

3. Provide an overview of state of the art techniques in cellular biology.

4. Expose the students to cellular approaches in studying disease, as opposed to more common molecular approaches.


The course consists of oral presentations.



1. Introduction: History of mitochondrial research. Evolution of mitochondria. Mitochondrial structure (inner, outer membrane, matrix, cristae). Overview of mitochondria's involvement in - energetics, ROS production, Ca++ homeostasis

2. The components of the respiratory chain: In the cell (respiration, mitochondrial potential, uncoupling)

3. Approaches to measure mitochondrial function: respirometry, mitochondrial probes for measuring potential and mitochondrial mass. 

4. Reactive oxygen species: The mitochondria theory of ageing. How ROS are formed? The different types of ROS (superoxide, hydrogen peroxide…). How they are neutralized? (Superoxide dismutase, Catalase, Glutathione…). Their relevance to aging, disease and to physiology. Approaches to measure ROS.

5. Mitochondrial turnover I: Biogenesis (PGC1 alpha) and its regulation (AMPK, SIRT1)

6. Mitochondrial turnover II: mitochondrial clearance via autophagy (life cycle of mitochondria Parkin, Pink1, Nix)

6. Mitochondrial dynamics in Stem cells (Atan)

7.  Mitochondria and thermogenesis: Brown adipose tissue, UCP1. Alternative pathways of proton leak. Synthetic uncouplers.

8. Mitochondria and calcium homeostasis. Import and export of mitochondrial calcium. The relative role of mitochondria in calcium homeostasis. (MCU, NCLX)

9. Mitochondrial proteins encoded by the nucleus: The transfer of genes from the mitochondria to the nucleus during evolution. The mechanism of import of mitochondrial proteins (Tim Tom). (guest lecturer: Abdussalam Azem)

10. Mitochondrial DNA: Characteristics of mitochondrial DNA, the genes encoded by mitochondrial DNA, heteroplasmy, TFAM

11. Mitochondria in apoptosis. The BCl2 family members. Cytochrome C release, mitochondrial transition pore. (Atan)

12. Mitochondria in disease I: Genetic diseases of mitochondria

13. Mitochondria in disease II: cancer metabolism in cancer

14. Mitochondria in disease III: Metabolic diseases obesity, diabetes

15. Summary and conclusions. Integration of mitochondrial membrane potential and respirometry into the analysis of a mitochondrial phenotype.  

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course students should be able to:

1. Evaluate mitochondrial Oxphos function.

2. Analyze respirometry data.

3. Critically read articles related to mitochondrial research.

4. Assess the potential of mitochondrial involvement in disease.

Reading List