Mitochondria are central to the health of eukaryotic cells. While commonly known for their bioenergetic role, mitochondria also function as signaling organelles that regulate cell stress responses capable of restoring homeostasis or leading the stressed cell to eventual death. Damage to the plasma membrane is a potentially fatal stressor incurred by all cells. Repairing plasma membrane damage requires cells to mount a rapid and localized response to injury. Accumulating evidence has identified a role for mitochondria as an important facilitator of this acute and localized repair response. However, as mitochondria are organized in a cell-wide, interconnected network, it is unclear how they collectively sense and respond to a focal injury. Here we will discuss how mitochondrial shape change is an integral part of this localized repair response. Mitochondrial fragmentation spatially restricts beneficial repair signaling, enabling a localized response to focal injury. Conservation of mitochondrial fragmentation in response to cell and tissue damage across species demonstrates that this is a universal pro-survival adaptation to injury and suggests that mitochondrial fragmentation may provide cells a mechanism to facilitate localized signaling in contexts beyond repairing plasma membrane injury.

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