Course Identification

Biology of Mitochondria and Bioenergetics

Lecturers and Teaching Assistants

Prof. Atan Gross, Dr. Guy Las, Dr. Tslil Ast

Course Schedule and Location

Second Semester
Monday, 14:00 - 17:00, Weissman, Seminar Rm A

Field of Study, Course Type and Credit Points

Life Sciences: Lecture; Elective; Regular; 3.00 points


The course consists of oral presentations given by experts in the field of mitochondrial study. In addition to a frontal lecture, there will be a one hour pre-recorded lecture every week.
The course will take place at Weissman Building Room A between 14:00-17:00
except for 8.7 at Weissman Building Room A between 10:00-13:00


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 %)

The student will have to watch 1hr pre-recorded lecture every week

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: Evolution of mitochondria (the endosymbiotic theory)
  2. The components of the respiratory chain (respiratory complexes, Proton gradient, ATP synthase)
  3. Iron Sulfate clusters (essential role in cell viability)

4.   Approaches for studying bioenergetics I: cellular level (ATP, NAD(P)H, respirometry, mitochondrial potential).

5. Approaches for studying bioenergetics II, III: isolated mitochondria, whole organism during rest (direct and indirect calorimetry, BMR, RQ)

6. Brown fat and thermogenesis (Shivering and non-shivering thermogenesis. Brown adipose tissue -UCP1 and its regulation)

7.  Aging and Reactive oxygen species: free radicals, oxidative damage, antioxidant enzymatic mechanisms, role of ROS in aging and in cell signaling

8. Aging and Mitochondrial turnover I: Mitochondrial biogenesis (PGC1 alpha, AMPK)

8. Aging and Mitochondrial turnover II: Mitochondrial clearance )autophagy, mitophagy, mTOR, PINK1, Parkin, Parkinson’s Disease(

9. Mitochondrial dynamics Fusion, fission and their various functions (Mfn1/2, OPA1, DRP1)

10. Mitochondria and apoptosis (cytochrome c)

11. Mitochondrial Ca2+ in physiology and pathology (PTP, NCLX, MCU). Mitochondrial protein import (TOM, TIM complexes)

12. Mitochondrial protein import (Tom and Tim complexes)

13. Mitochondrial DNA (TFAM, haplogroups, heteroplasmy, the mother of all humans: Mitochondrial Eve, identification of the Romanovs)  

14. Mitochondrial DNA diseases and therapies (LOHN, Leigh syndrome, MELAS, cybrids)

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