Mitochondria are multifunctional organelles that are crucial to cell homeostasis. They constitute the major site of energy production for the cell, they are key players in signalling pathways using secondary messengers such as calcium, and they are involved in cell death and redox balance paradigms. Mitochondria quickly adapt their dynamics and biogenesis rates to meet the varying energy demands of the cells, both in normal and in pathological conditions. Therefore, understanding simultaneous changes in mitochondrial functions is crucial in developing mitochondria-based therapy options for complex pathological conditions such as cancer, neurological disorders, and metabolic syndromes. To this end, fluorescence microscopy coupled to live imaging represents a promising strategy to track these changes in real time. In this review, we will first describe the commonly available tools to follow three key mitochondrial functions using fluorescence microscopy: Calcium signalling, mitochondrial dynamics, and mitophagy. Then, we will focus on how the development of genetically-encoded fluorescent sensors became a milestone for the understanding of these mitochondrial functions. In particular, we will show how these tools allowed researchers to address several biochemical activities in living cells, and with high spatiotemporal resolution. With the ultimate goal of tracking multiple mitochondrial functions simultaneously, we will conclude by presenting future perspectives for the development of novel genetically-encoded fluorescent biosensors.
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