Document Type


Publication Date




Publication Title

Scientific Reports






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.


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© The Author(s) 2020

Original Publication Citation

Lee, J. W. (2020). Protonic Capacitor: Elucidating the biological significance of mitochondrial cristae formation. Scientific Reports, 10(1), Article 10304.