Articles | Volume 8, issue 1
Research article
14 Mar 2017
Research article |  | 14 Mar 2017

Mitochondrial activity detected by cantilever based sensor

Petar Stupar, Wojciech Chomicki, Caroline Maillard, David Mikeladze, Aleksandar Kalauzi, Ksenija Radotić, Giovanni Dietler, and Sandor Kasas

Abstract. Our team recently demonstrated that cantilever based devices can detect signature of life in a chemistry independent manner. In this technique, the organism of interest is attached onto a classical AFM cantilever. If alive, it induces nanometre scale oscillations of the cantilever that disappear once the organism is killed. The technique was successfully used on bacteria, yeast, vegetal and mammalian cells. In this work we demonstrate that the method can also be applied to sub-cellular organelles, such as mitochondria. Mitochondria are involved in cellular energy production and are present in most eukaryotic cells. Nowadays, it is believed that mitochondria were originally prokaryotes that colonized eukaryotic cells and that live in an endosymbiotic way ever since. Here we present that mitochondria are also animated by nanometre scale oscillations that depend on their metabolic state and that stop once they are inhibited. This observation opens novel avenues to investigate the numerous mitochondria-related diseases in humans.

Short summary
Mitochondria are small organelles with key functions inside our cells. Unfortunately, there are a number of diseases that arise from their malfunction. To test whether they are healthy or not, complicated procedures are often required. In the paper, we applied our sensor that detects motion of living microorganisms. We saw that a sensor detecting tiny vibrations is powerful enough to sense the difference between normal and inhibited mitochondria.