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Do Mitochondria Have an Immune System?

V. A. Popkov1,2, L. D. Zorova3, I. O. Korvigo4, D. N. Silachev1, S. S. Jankauskas1, V. A. Babenko1,2, I. B. Pevzner1, T. I. Danilina2, S. D. Zorov2, E. Y. Plotnikov1, and D. B. Zorov1*

1Lomonosov Moscow State University, Belozersky Institute of Physico-Chemical Biology, 119991 Moscow, Russia; E-mail: zorov@genebee.msu.su

2Lomonosov Moscow State University, Faculty of Bioengineering and Bioinformatics, 119991 Moscow, Russia

3Lomonosov Moscow State University, International Laser Research Center, 119991 Moscow, Russia

4Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, 141701 Dolgoprudny, Russia

* To whom correspondence should be addressed.

Received July 1, 2016; Revision received August 26, 2016
The question if mitochondria have some kind of immune system is not trivial. The basis for raising this question is the fact that bacteria, which are progenitors of mitochondria, do have an immune system. The CRISPR system in bacteria based on the principle of RNA interference serves as an organized mechanism for destroying alien nucleic acids, primarily those of viral origin. We have shown that mitochondria are also a target for viral attacks, probably due to a related organization of genomes in these organelles and bacteria. Bioinformatic analysis performed in this study has not given a clear answer if there is a CRISPR-like immune system in mitochondria. However, this does not preclude the possibility of mitochondrial immunity that can be difficult to decipher or that is based on some principles other than those of CRISPR.
KEY WORDS: mitochondria, immune system, virus

DOI: 10.1134/S0006297916100217