10304 (14 pp.)
For decades, it was not entirely clear why mitochondria develop cristae? The work employing the transmembrane-electrostatic proton localization theory reported here has now provided a clear answer to this fundamental question. Surprisingly, the transmembrane-electrostatically localized proton concentration at a curved mitochondrial crista tip can be significantly higher than that at the relatively flat membrane plane regions where the proton-pumping respiratory supercomplexes are situated. The biological significance for mitochondrial cristae has now, for the first time, been elucidated at a protonic bioenergetics level: 1) The formation of cristae creates more mitochondrial inner membrane surface area and thus more protonic capacitance for transmembrane-electrostatically localized proton energy storage; and 2) The geometric effect of a mitochondrial crista enhances the transmembraneelectrostatically localized proton density to the crista tip where the ATP synthase can readily utilize the localized proton density to drive ATP synthesis.
Original Publication Citation
Lee, J. W. (2020). Protonic Capacitor: Elucidating the biological significance of mitochondrial cristae formation. Scientific Reports, 10(1), Article 10304. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-66203-6
Lee, James Weifu, "Protonic Capacitor: Elucidating the Biological Significance of Mitochondrial Cristae Formation" (2020). Chemistry & Biochemistry Faculty Publications. 185.