These mitochondrial rendezvous serve multiple purposes, at least one of which seems to be cooperative. Single mitochondria that lack a genome or have a dysfunctional one can be “rescued” by fusing with healthy neighbors. The connected structures create a conduit for sharing chemical signals and proteins, and fusion might help allot proteins more equally among mitochondria, Nunnari said. But fusion doesn’t mix everything. “That’s important too — to maintain a little bit of individuality even when you’re within a network,” she said.
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