The Structure of Mitochondria

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The Structure of Mitochondria
E. A. MUNN (Editor)
Academic Press, London, 1974, pp. 465, €9.80
Recent developments in the study of mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation suggest
that a clear appreciation of mitochondrial structure will be crucial to understanding of
the mechanism of this process. In this respect the book is timely. It provides a comprehensive review of the ultrastructure and chemical components of mitochondria and
attempts to relate these to the functioning of the organelle. The choice of electron micrographs and their reproduction is uniformly good, but the lack of depth in treatment of
some areas of mitochondrial function is frustrating in places.
The book begins with a survey of the range of mitochondrial shape and ultrastructure
in a wide variety of organisms that emphasizes the overall similarities. This section also
contains a useful description of the techniques used in the electron microscopy of mitochondria and the factors one should consider when interpreting electron micrographs.
This is followed by accounts of the structural changes of mitochondria in situ (during
development of gametogenesis or as a result of dietary or environmental changes or
clinical disorders) and the structure of isolated mitochondria and the factors influencing
this. Description of the chemical composition of mitochondria is treated under two headings: (i) proteins and (ii) everything else. The protein section gives a full listing of
enzymes that haveat one time or another been observed in mitochondria, and goes on to a
brief resume of 30 or so enzymes for which some structural details are available. With a
few exceptions these are too superficial to be of much value-except as a lead into the
literature. The discussion of oxidative-phosphorylation coupling factors should go a
little way to resolving the confusion often experienced by ‘non-mitochondriologists’.
The
section on other components is notable for some beautiful electron micrographs of mitochondrial DNA, particularly molecules undergoing replication or transcription. Chapter
6 on the structure and functional organization of the mitochondrial membranes deals
with the distribution of enzymes on the inner and outer membranes and the organization
of electron carriers and ATP synthetase complex in the inner membrane. Following this
is a short chapter dealing with compartmentation and transport of metabolites and avery
valuable chapter relating mitochondria1 structural changes with metabolic control and
ion transport. Finally there is a very brief chapter comparing structural and biochemical aspects of mitochondria, chloroplasts and bacteria and discussing the possible
evolutionary origin of mitochondria.
This book does much to fill the gap in the literature left by the faded usefulness of The
Mitochondrion by Lehninger. The author has tackled a difficult subject that others in this
field have been reluctant to do. On the whole he has been successful, and I would certainly
recommend this book to biochemists looking for a detailed account of mitochondrial
structure or a general introduction to mitochondrial function. It is a pity that it is so
expensive-this will certainly scare off a potential undergraduate market.
P. WHITTAKER
Vol. 3