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Lim, S, Smith, KR, Lim, ST, Tian, R, Lu, J and Tan, M (2016) Regulation of mitochondrial functions by protein phosphorylation and dephosphorylation. Cell Biosci 6:25
The mitochondria are double membrane-bound organelles found in most eukaryotic cells. They generate most of the cell's energy supply of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Protein phosphorylation and dephosphorylation are critical mechanisms in the regulation of cell signaling networks and are essential for almost all the cellular functions. For many decades, mitochondria were considered autonomous organelles merely functioning to generate energy for cells to survive and proliferate, and were thought to be independent of the cellular signaling networks. Consequently, phosphorylation and dephosphorylation processes of mitochondrial kinases and phosphatases were largely neglected. However, evidence accumulated in recent years on mitochondria-localized kinases/phosphatases has changed this longstanding view. Mitochondria are increasingly recognized as a hub for cell signaling, and many kinases and phosphatases have been reported to localize in mitochondria and play important functions. However, the strength of the evidence on mitochondrial localization and the activities of the reported kinases and phosphatases vary greatly, and the detailed mechanisms on how these kinases/phosphatases translocate to mitochondria, their subsequent function, and the physiological and pathological implications of their localization are still poorly understood. Here, we provide an updated perspective on the recent advancement in this area, with an emphasis on the implications of mitochondrial kinases/phosphatases in cancer and several other diseases.