The shape of mitochondria

Yesterday on Facebook I posted a picture of … something, that had you all guessing:

Stereo image

It’s actually a stereo-pair of mitochondria from human Leydig cells–the testosterone-producing cells of the testes–viewed using high resolution scanning electron microscopy. Evaluating the paper, F1000 Member Rosemarie Heyn at the University of Rome “La Sapienza” points out that there are few ultrastructural studies of these cells, most people tending to focus on the endocrinology.

The study describes the observation of over 1000 mitochondria from healthy cells, and is likely to be a useful reference work.

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  1. Weird, those look sorta like tubular cristae… does the morphology of mitochondrial cristae vary from cell type to cell type in metazoans?

  2. Yes; the authors claim that only 3.5% appeared to be lamellar. Whether it varies from cell type to cell type, or is an artefact of the technologies used, is a matter for further study, I think!