Mitochondrial distribution in mammalian cells

Date of Award


Degree Name

M.S. in Biology


Department of Biology


Advisor: Shirley Wright


The mitochondrion is an important and essential cell organelle which provides about 90% energy for the organism and plays a number of important roles in cell functions. Recent research found that mitochondrial distribution in somatic cells is homogenously scattered throughout the cytoplasm, while the distribution in some stem cells and mature oocytes is perinuclear. These findings suggested that the spatial distribution of mitochondria may be related to their normal functions. In addition, Bavister has hypothesized that this periuclear localization of mitochondria may indicate the pluripotency of stem cells. But mitochondrial distribution has not been examined in embryonic stem cells to date. My thesis investigates the distribution of mitochondria during development in mammalian cells and proposes experiments to determine and compare the spatial distribution of mitochondria in embryonic stem cells and differentiated cells using fluorescence staining of MitoTracker Green to test Bavister's hypothesis. In addition, research suggested that mitochondrial distribution is mediated by the cytoskeleton in higher eukaryotes. Therefore, an additional goal of my research was to address the effects of cytoskeletal disruptors on mitochondrial arrangement.


Mitochondria, Embryonic stem cells, Somatic cells

Rights Statement

Copyright © 2009, author