Mitochondria transplantation between living cells

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Mitochondria and the complex endomembrane system are hallmarks of eukaryotic cells. To date, it has been difficult to manipulate organelle structures within single live cells. We developed a FluidFM-based approach to extract, inject and transplant organelles from and into living cells with subcellular spatial resolution. The approach enabled the transfer of controlled quantities of mitochondria into cells while maintaining their viability and monitoring their fate in new host cells. Transplantation of healthy and drug-impaired mitochondria into primary keratinocytes allowed real-time tracking of mitochondrial subpopulation rescue. Fusion with the mitochondrial network of recipient cells occurred 20 min after transplantation and continued for over 16 hours. After transfer of mitochondria and cell propagation over generations, we show that donor mtDNA was replicated in recipient cells without the need for selection pressure. The approach opens new prospects for the study of organelle physiology and homeostasis, but also for mechanobiology, synthetic biology, and therapy.

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