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A rise in cytosolic Ca(2+) concentration is used as a key activation signal in virtually all animal cells, where it triggers a range of responses including neurotransmitter release, muscle contraction, and cell growth and proliferation [1]. During intracellular Ca(2+) signaling, mitochondria rapidly take up significant amounts of Ca(2+) from the cytosol, and this stimulates energy production, alters the spatial and temporal profile of the intracellular Ca(2+) signal, and triggers cell death [2-10]. Mitochondrial Ca(2+) uptake occurs via a ruthenium-red-sensitive uniporter channel found in the inner membrane [11]. In spite of its critical importance, little is known about how the uniporter is regulated. Here, we report that the mitochondrial Ca(2+) uniporter is gated by cytosolic Ca(2+). Ca(2+) uptake into mitochondria is a Ca(2+)-activated process with a requirement for functional calmodulin. However, cytosolic Ca(2+) subsequently inactivates the uniporter, preventing further Ca(2+) uptake. The uptake pathway and the inactivation process have relatively low Ca(2+) affinities of approximately 10-20 microM. However, numerous mitochondria are within 20-100 nm of the endoplasmic reticulum, thereby enabling rapid and efficient transmission of Ca(2+) release into adjacent mitochondria by InsP(3) receptors on the endoplasmic reticulum. Hence, biphasic control of mitochondrial Ca(2+) uptake by Ca(2+) provides a novel basis for complex physiological patterns of intracellular Ca(2+) signaling.

Original publication




Journal article


Curr Biol

Publication Date





1672 - 1677


Animals, Biological Transport, Active, Calcium, Calcium Channels, Cell Line, Tumor, Cytosol, Inositol 1,4,5-Trisphosphate Receptors, Ion Transport, Microscopy, Electron, Transmission, Mitochondria, Rats, Signal Transduction