Deletion of mitochondrial calcium uniporter incompletely inhibits calcium uptake and induction of the permeability transition pore in brain mitochondria

James Hamilton, Tatiana Brustovetsky, Jacob E. Rysted, Zhihong Lin, Yuriy M. Usachev, Nickolay Brustovetsky

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Ca2+ influx into mitochondria is mediated by the mitochondrial calcium uniporter (MCU), whose identity was recently revealed as a 40-kDa protein that along with other proteins forms the mitochondrial Ca2+uptake machinery. TheMCUis a Ca2+-conducting channel spanning the inner mitochondrial membrane. Here, deletion of the MCU completely inhibited Ca2+ uptake in liver, heart, and skeletal muscle mitochondria. However, in brain nonsynaptic and synaptic mitochondria from neuronal somata/glial cells and nerve terminals, respectively, the MCU deletion slowed, but did not completely block, Ca2+ uptake. Under resting conditions, brain MCU-KO mitochondria remained polarized, and in brain MCU-KO mitochondria, the electrophoretic Ca2+ ionophore ETH129 significantly accelerated Ca2+ uptake. The residual Ca2+ uptake in brain MCU-KO mitochondria was insensitive to inhibitors of mitochondrial Na+/Ca2+ exchanger and ryanodine receptor (CGP37157 and dantrolene, respectively), but was blocked by the MCU inhibitor Ru360. Respiration of WT and MCU-KO brain mitochondria was similar except that for mitochondria that oxidized pyruvate and malate, Ca2+ more strongly inhibited respiration inWTthan inMCU-KOmitochondria. Of note, the MCU deletion significantly attenuated but did not completely prevent induction of the permeability transition pore (PTP) in brain mitochondria. Expression level of cyclophilin D and ATP content in mitochondria, two factors that modulate PTP induction, were unaffected by MCU-KO, whereas ADP was lower in MCU-KO than in WT brain mitochondria. Our results suggest the presence of an MCU-independent Ca2+ uptake pathway in brain mitochondria that mediates residual Ca2+ influx and induction of PTP in a fraction of the mitochondrial population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15652-15663
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number40
StatePublished - Oct 5 2018


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology

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