Enzymatic organization of the Mitochondrion
The mitochondrion consists of structured segments (cristae and external membrane) and of spaces filled with a fluid in which salts, proteins and possibly some coenzymes are dissolved. The present discussion is limited to the composition of the structured segments only. The structured segments of the mitochondrion of animal tissues are composites of three parts: (1) the elementary particle; (2) the structural protein-lipid network; and (3) the primary dehydrogenase complexes. The elementary particle contains the electron transfer chain and the associated enzymes concerned with oxidative phosphorylation. In each mitochondrion (e.g. that of beef heart muscle) there are some 15,000 elementary particles. These particles are arranged in paired arrays both in the external envelope and in the cristae. The elementary particles are attached to or imbedded in a sandwich layer made up of protein (structural protein) and lipid (predominantly phospholipid). The paired arrays of elementary particle plus the sandwich layer make up the 3-layered structure of the mitochondrial membranes, i.e. the structured segments.
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