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In eukaryotic cells, one major route for Ca(2+) influx is through store-operated CRAC channels, which are activated following a fall in Ca(2+) content within the endoplasmic reticulum. Mitochondria are key regulators of this ubiquitous Ca(2+) influx pathway. Respiring mitochondria rapidly take up some of the Ca(2+) released from the stores, resulting in more extensive store depletion and thus robust activation of CRAC channels. As CRAC channels open, the ensuing rise in cytoplasmic Ca(2+) feeds back to inactivate the channels. By buffering some of the incoming Ca(2+) mitochondria reduce Ca(2+)-dependent inactivation of the CRAC channels, resulting in more prolonged Ca(2+) influx. However, mitochondria can release Ca(2+) close to the endoplasmic reticulum, accelerating store refilling and thus promoting deactivation of the CRAC channels. Mitochondria thus regulate all major transitions in CRAC channel gating, revealing remarkable versatility in how this organelle impacts upon Ca(2+) influx. Recent evidence suggests that mitochondria also control CRAC channels through mechanisms that are independent of their Ca(2+)-buffering actions and ability to generate ATP. Furthermore, pyruvic acid, a key intermediary metabolite and precursor substrate for the Krebs cycle, reduces the extent of Ca(2+)-dependent inactivation of CRAC channels. Hence mitochondrial metabolism impacts upon Ca(2+) influx through CRAC channels and thus on a range of key downstream cellular responses.

Original publication




Journal article


Cell Calcium

Publication Date





6 - 13


Animals, Calcium Channel Agonists, Calcium Channel Blockers, Calcium Channels, Calcium Signaling, Glycolysis, Humans, Mitochondria, Phosphotransferases (Alcohol Group Acceptor), Pyruvic Acid