Recently, Dr. Glancy demonstrated that skeletal muscle mitochondria form a highly connected network resembling that of an electrical power grid, and, indeed, were capable of electrical conduction of the mitochondrial membrane potential throughout the cell. The discovery of this rapid energy distribution mechanism overturned longstanding ideas regarding diffusion as the primary energy distribution pathway in skeletal muscle. Current work in this area is focused on providing a better understanding of the regulation and development of these mitochondrial networks as well as their role in overall muscle function.
Despite much interest, control of mitochondrial function in vivo remains largely unclear as direct measures of mitochondrial enzymes in live animals have been limited. As a result, another major focus of the Glancy lab is to develop and utilize novel, direct measurements of in vivo mitochondrial function in skeletal muscle under different workloads. The goal of these studies is to unravel the signaling cascade involved in the upregulation of mitochondrial energy conversion during muscle contraction.