Viva la mitochondria! Harnessing yeast mitochondria for chemical production

Lisset Duran, José Montano López, José L. Avalos

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


The mitochondria, often referred to as the powerhouse of the cell, offer a unique physicochemical environment enriched with a distinct set of enzymes, metabolites and cofactors ready to be exploited for metabolic engineering. In this review, we discuss how the mitochondrion has been engineered in the traditional sense of metabolic engineering or completely bypassed for chemical production. We then describe the more recent approach of harnessing the mitochondria to compartmentalize engineered metabolic pathways, including for the production of alcohols, terpenoids, sterols, organic acids and other valuable products. We explain the different mechanisms by which mitochondrial compartmentalization benefits engineered metabolic pathways to boost chemical production. Finally, we discuss the key challenges that need to be overcome to expand the applicability of mitochondrial engineering and reach the full potential of this emerging field.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberfoaa037
JournalFEMS Yeast Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - Sep 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Microbiology


  • Biotechnology
  • Chemical production
  • Metabolic engineering
  • Metabolism
  • Mitochondria
  • Mitochondrial engineering


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