Permanent residency in the eukaryotic cell pressured the prokaryotic mitochondrial ancestor to strategize for intracellular living. Mitochondria are able to autonomously integrate and respond to cellular cues and demands by remodeling their morphology. These processes define mitochondrial dynamics and inextricably link the fate of the mitochondrion and that of the host eukaryote, as exemplified by the human diseases that result from mutations in mitochondrial dynamics proteins. In this review, we delineate the architecture of mitochondria and define the mechanisms by which they modify their shape. Key players in these mechanisms are discussed, along with their role in manipulating mitochondrial morphology during cellular action and development. Throughout, we highlight the evolutionary context in which mitochondrial dynamics emerged and consider unanswered questions whose dissection might lead to mitochondrial morphology–based therapies.


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