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Workshops & seminars

Electrical and Thermal Control in the Mitochondrion
Dr.Chérif F. Matta
(Mount Saint Vincent University)

Date & time

Friday, January 31, 2020
3 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.


Dr. Cherif Matta


This event is free



Richard J. Renaud Science Complex
7141 Sherbrooke W. Room SP-S110

Wheelchair accessible


The mitochondrion is the primary site of energy production in eukaryotic cells. The energy produced can be stored in pyrophosphate bonds in energy rich compounds such as ATP or can be dissipated as heat. This heat is believed to be generated by the return of the proton back to the matrix through the inner mitochondrial membrane, by-passing ATP synthase. It has recently been proposed that some of this heat dissipation is a “necessary evil” associated with molecular recognition of the protons by ATP synthase, which is a requirement of information theory. A minimum energy of kBTln2 must be dissipated for every proton recognized by ATP synthase [1-3]. Related to this thermogenesis, it has recently been proposed that the mitochondrion might be significantly hotter than its surroundings in the cell [4,5]. This led to the suggestion of novel roles for heat shock proteins and for compatible solutes in mitochondrial “hot” environment, a view corroborated by some bioinformatics results on DNA coding for these proteins in the mitochondrion [6]. Finally, a proposed feedback control of the electric field across the inner mitochondrial membrane will be described.


   [1]    Matta CF, Massa L.  Notes on the energy equivalence of information. J. Phys. Chem. A 121, 9131-9135 (2017).

   [2]    Matta CF, Massa L.  Energy equivalence of information in the mitochondrion and the thermodynamic efficiency of ATP synthase. Biochemistry 54, 5376-5378 (2015).

   [3]    Matta CF, Massa L.  Information theory and the thermodynamic efficiency of biological sorting systems: Case studies of the kidney and of mitochondrial ATP-synthase. Chapter 1 in: Sustained Energy for Enhanced Human Functions and Activity, Bagchi, D. (Ed.), Academic Press - An imprint of Elsevier (London) 3-29 (2017).

   [4]    Chrétien D, Bénit P,  Ha H-H, Keipert S, El-Khoury R, Chang Y-T, Jastroch M, Jacobs HT, Rustin P, Rak M.  Mitochondria are physiologically maintained at close to 50oC. PLOS Biology 16(1) e2003992, 1-17 (2018).

   [5]    Lane N.  Hot mitochondria? PLOS Biology (, pp.1-6 (2018).

   [6]    Nasr MA, Dovbeshko GI, Bearne SL, El-Badri N, Matta CF.  Heat shock proteins and their putative roles in the hot mitochondrion. BioEssays 41 (issue 9), Article 1900055, pp. 1-6 (2019).


Chérif F. Matta, PhD, HDR, FRSA, FRSB, FInstP, FRSC is Professor at the Department of Chemistry and Physics at Mount Saint Vincent University (MSVU) and an Adjunct professor at Dalhousie, Laval, and Saint Mary’s Universities (all in Canada) and at Zewail City of Science and Technology (Egypt). He obtained a Bachelor of Pharmaceutical Science from Alexandria University (Egypt), a PhD in theoretical and quantum chemistry from McMaster University (Canada), and a Habilitation to Direct Research (HDR) from the Université de Lorraine (France). He received postdoctoral training at the University of Toronto and then at Dalhousie University in computational biochemistry.

Professor Matta has approximately 150 publications including two books and has given 200 seminars and conference presentations in 30 countries around the World. His research interests include theoretical/quantum and computational (bio)chemistry and theoretical biophysics. More specifically, besides quantum chemistry and the quantum theory of atoms in molecules (QTAIM), his research interests include theoretical investigation of mitochondrial biophysics, the effects of strong external electric fields on molecules and biochemical reactions, the study of the intrinsic electric fields of biomolecules, and the development and use of the electron localization-delocalization matrices (LDMs) in drug and materials design.

For more information, visit his website:

Dr. Matta is the guest of Dr. Gilles Peslherbe.

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