Mitochondria and Viral Infection: Advances and Emerging Battlefronts

Mahsa Sorouri, Tyron Chang, Dustin C. Hancks

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Mitochondria are dynamic organelles vital for energy production with now appreciated roles in immune defense. During microbial infection, mitochondria serve as signaling hubs to induce immune responses to counteract invading pathogens like viruses. Mitochondrial functions are central to a variety of antiviral responses including apoptosis and type I interferon signaling (IFN-I). While apoptosis and IFN-I mediated by mitochondrial antiviral signaling (MAVS) are well-established defenses, new dimensions of mitochondrial biology are emerging as battlefronts during viral infection. Increasingly, it has become apparent that mitochondria serve as reservoirs for distinct cues that trigger immune responses and that alterations in mitochondrial morphology may also tip infection outcomes. Furthermore, new data are foreshadowing pivotal roles for classic, homeostatic facets of this organelle as host-virus interfaces, namely, the tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle and electron transport chain (ETC) complexes like respiratory supercomplexes. Underscoring the importance of “housekeeping” mitochondrial activities in viral infection is the growing list of viral-encoded inhibitors including mimics derived from cellular genes that antagonize these functions. For example, virologs for ETC factors and several enzymes from the TCA cycle have been recently identified in DNA virus genomes and serve to pinpoint new vulnerabilities during infection. Here, we highlight recent advances for known antiviral functions associated with mitochondria as well as where the next battlegrounds may be based on viral effectors. Collectively, new methodology and mechanistic insights over the coming years will strengthen our understanding of how an ancient molecular truce continues to defend cells against viruses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere02096
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2022


  • Apoptosis
  • C15orf48
  • DAMP
  • Interferon
  • MAVS
  • Micropeptides
  • Mimics
  • Mitochondria
  • Mitochondrial dynamics
  • MtDNA
  • MtROS
  • MtdsRNA
  • NDUFA4
  • Pyroptosis
  • Supercomplexes
  • TCA cycle
  • Virologs
  • Virus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Virology


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