Keeping the immune system in check: a role for mitophagy

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Mitochondria play a central role in many facets of cellular function including energy production, control of cell death and immune signaling. Breakdown of any of these pathways because of mitochondrial deficits or excessive reactive oxygen species production has detrimental consequences for immune system function and cell viability. Maintaining the functional integrity of mitochondria is therefore a critical challenge for the cell. Surveillance systems that monitor mitochondrial status enable the cell to identify and either repair or eliminate dysfunctional mitochondria. Mitophagy is a selective form of autophagy that eliminates dysfunctional mitochondria from the population to maintain overall mitochondrial health. This review covers the major players involved in mitophagy and explores the role mitophagy plays to support the immune system.

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