Science (New York, N.Y.)

Stem cells. Asymmetric apportioning of aged mitochondria between daughter cells is required for stemness.

PMID 25837514


By dividing asymmetrically, stem cells can generate two daughter cells with distinct fates. However, evidence is limited in mammalian systems for the selective apportioning of subcellular contents between daughters. We followed the fates of old and young organelles during the division of human mammary stemlike cells and found that such cells apportion aged mitochondria asymmetrically between daughter cells. Daughter cells that received fewer old mitochondria maintained stem cell traits. Inhibition of mitochondrial fission disrupted both the age-dependent subcellular localization and segregation of mitochondria and caused loss of stem cell properties in the progeny cells. Hence, mechanisms exist for mammalian stemlike cells to asymmetrically sort aged and young mitochondria, and these are important for maintaining stemness properties.