The mitochondrial side of epigenetics

Alessandra Castegna, Vito Iacobazzi, Vittoria Infantino

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The bidirectional cross talk between nuclear and mitochondrial DNA is essential for cellular homeostasis and proper functioning. Mitochondria depend on nuclear contribution for much of their functionality, but their activities have been recently recognized to control nuclear gene expression as well as cell function in many different ways. Epigenetic mechanisms, which tune gene expression in response to environmental stimuli, are key regulatory events at the interplay between mitochondrial and nuclear interactions. Emerging findings indicate that epigenetic factors can be targets or instruments of mitochondrial-nuclear cross talk. Additionally, the growing interest into mtDNA epigenetic modifications opens new avenues into the interaction mechanisms between mitochondria and nucleus. In this review we summarize the points of mitochondrial and nuclear reciprocal control involving epigenetic factors, focusing on the role of mitochondrial genome and metabolism in shaping epigenetic modulation of gene expression. The relevance of the new findings on the methylation of mtDNA is also highlighted as a new frontier in the complex scenario of mitochondrial-nuclear communication.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)299-307
Number of pages9
JournalPhysiological Genomics
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1 2015


  • Epigenetics
  • Metabolism
  • Methylation
  • Mitochondria
  • Mitochondrial DNA methylation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Genetics


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