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B09 | Mitochondrial defense against an intracellular parasite

Lena Pernas
Max Planck Institute for Biology of Ageing,

Phone: +49 221 / 37970 - 770  
E-mail: Lena.PernasSpamProtectionage.mpg.de
For more information and contact please visit the PERNAS LAB.

Running time within the CRC 1218: 07/2020 - 06/2024.


Mitochondria regulate a myriad of cellular functions, but in the context of infection these dynamic organelles are considered exploitable targets for microbes. However, the fact that pathogens have developed strategies to perturb mitochondrial function supports the existence of mitochondrial counterstrategies to defend against pathogens. Our overarching goal is to deepen our understanding of how mitochondria regulate cellular defense against microbes. In this project, we will explore two novel mechanisms of mitochondrial defense during infection with human parasite Toxoplasma.

Project-related publications

Li, X., Straub, J., Medeiros, T.C., Den Brave, F., Peker, E., Atanassov, I., Stillger, K., Michaelis, J.B., Burbridge, E., Adrain, C., Münch, C., Riemer, J., Becker, T., Pernas, L.F. (2022). Mitochondria shed their outer membrane in response to infection-induced stress. Science  • Vol 375, Issue 6577 • DOI: 10.1126/science.abi4343

Pernas, L. (2019). Finding a Direction-How do Mitochondria Know Where to Go? MSphere. 4, e0032119

Pernas, L., Boothroyd, J.C., and Scorrano, L. (2018). Mitochondria restrict Toxoplasma growth by limiting its fatty acids uptake. Cell Metab. 27, 886-897 e884.

Blank, M.L., Parker, M.L., Ramaswamy, R., Powell, C.J., English, E.D., Adomako-Ankomay, Y., Pernas, L., Workman, S.D., Boothroyd, J.C., Boulanger, M.J., and Boyle, J.P. (2018). A Toxoplasma gondii locus required for the direct manipulation of host mitochondria has maintained multiple ancestral functions. Mol. Microbiol. 108, 519-535.