Mitochondria are the key energy-producing organelles and cellular source of reactive species. They are responsible for managing cell life and death by a balanced homeostasis passing through a network of structures, regulated principally via fission and fusion. Herein we discuss about the most advanced findings considering mitochondria as dynamic biophysical systems playing compelling roles in the regulation of energy metabolism in both physiologic and pathologic processes controlling cell death and survival. Precisely, we focus on the mitochondrial commitment to the onset, maintenance and counteraction of apoptosis, autophagy and senescence in the bioenergetic reprogramming of cancer cells. In this context, looking for a pharmacological manipulation of cell death processes as a successful route for future targeted therapies, there is major biotechnological challenge in underlining the location, function and molecular mechanism of mitochondrial proteins. Based on the critical role of mitochondrial functions for cellular health, a better knowledge of the main molecular players in mitochondria disfunction could be decisive for the therapeutical control of degenerative diseases, including cancer.
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