SummaryMitochondrial calcium accumulation was recently shown to depend on a complex composed of an inner-membrane channel (MCU and MCUb) and regulatory subunits (MICU1, MCUR1, and EMRE). A fundamental property of MCU is low activity at resting cytosolic Ca2+ concentrations, preventing deleterious Ca2+ cycling and organelle overload. Here we demonstrate that these properties are ensured by a regulatory heterodimer composed of two proteins with opposite effects, MICU1 and MICU2, which, both in purified lipid bilayers and in intact cells, stimulate and inhibit MCU activity, respectively. Both MICU1 and MICU2 are regulated by calcium through their EF-hand domains, thus accounting for the sigmoidal response of MCU to [Ca2+] in situ and allowing tight physiological control. At low [Ca2+], the dominant effect of MICU2 largely shuts down MCU activity; at higher [Ca2+], the stimulatory effect of MICU1 allows the prompt response of mitochondria to Ca2+ signals generated in the cytoplasm.
Mitochondrial calcium uniporter (MCU) channel is responsible for Ruthenium Red-sensitive mitochondrial calcium uptake. Here, we demonstrate MCU oligomerization by immunoprecipitation and Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET) and characterize a novel protein (MCUb) with two predicted transmembrane domains, 50% sequence similarity and a different expression profile from MCU. Based on computational modelling, MCUb includes critical amino-acid substitutions in the pore region and indeed MCUb does not form a calcium-permeable channel in planar lipid bilayers. In HeLa cells, MCUb is inserted into the oligomer and exerts a dominant-negative effect, reducing the [Ca 2 þ ] mt increases evoked by agonist stimulation. Accordingly, in vitro co-expression of MCUb with MCU drastically reduces the probability of observing channel activity in planar lipid bilayer experiments. These data unveil the structural complexity of MCU and demonstrate a novel regulatory mechanism, based on the inclusion of dominant-negative subunits in a multimeric channel, that underlies the fine control of the physiologically and pathologically relevant process of mitochondrial calcium homeostasis.
Mitochondria provide chemical energy for endoergonic reactions in form of ATP. Their activity must meet cellular energy requirements, but mechanisms linking organelle performance to ATP levels are poorly understood. Here, we identify a mitochondria-localized protein complex that mediates ATP-dependent potassium currents, referred to as mitoK
. We show that similarly to their plasma membrane counterparts, mitoK
channels are composed of pore-forming (MITOK) and ATP-binding (MITOSUR) subunits. In vitro reconstitution of MITOK together with MITOSUR recapitulates the main properties of mitoK
. While MITOK overexpression triggers dramatic organelle swelling, its genetic ablation causes instability of mitochondrial membrane potential, widening of intracristal space and decreased oxidative phosphorylation. Most importantly, loss of Mitok suppresses cardioprotection elicited by diazoxide-induced pharmacological preconditioning. Our data indicate that mitoK
channels respond to the cellular energetic status by regulating organelle volume and function, thereby representing key players in mitochondrial physiology with potential impact on several pathological processes.
The size of the light-induced proton motive force (pmf) across the thylakoid membrane of chloroplasts is regulated in response to environmental stimuli. Here, we describe a component of the thylakoid membrane, the two-pore potassium (K(+)) channel TPK3, which modulates the composition of the pmf through ion counterbalancing. Recombinant TPK3 exhibited potassium-selective channel activity sensitive to Ca(2+) and H(+). In Arabidopsis plants, the channel is found in the thylakoid stromal lamellae. Arabidopsis plants silenced for the TPK3 gene display reduced growth and altered thylakoid membrane organization. This phenotype reflects an impaired capacity to generate a normal pmf, which results in reduced CO2 assimilation and deficient nonphotochemical dissipation of excess absorbed light. Thus, the TPK3 channel manages the pmf necessary to convert photochemical energy into physiological functions.
Voltage-Dependent Anion selective Channels (VDAC) are pore-forming mitochondrial outer membrane proteins. In mammals VDAC3, the least characterized isoform, presents a set of cysteines predicted to be exposed toward the intermembrane space. We find that cysteines in VDAC3 can stay in different oxidation states. This
Background/Aims: Voltage-dependent anion channels (VDAC), also known as eukaryotic porins, are located in the outer mitochondrial membrane and allow the flux of ions and small metabolites. While the pore-forming ability of recombinant VDAC1 and VDAC2 has been extensively studied during the last decades, a clear-cut ion conducting channel activity has not been assigned to the VDAC3 isoform. Methods: Electrophysiological characterization of the recombinant protein purified and refolded was obtained after incorporation into planar lipid bilayers. Results: Here we report for the first time that recombinant hVDAC3, upon expression in E.coli and purification-refolding, shows a channel activity with a very small conductance (90 pS in 1 M KCl) with respect to the conductance of hVDAC1 (>3500 pS in 1 M KCl). Purified hVDAC3 allowed the passage of both chloride and gluconate anions and did not distinguish between potassium, sodium and calcium used as cations. In contrast to VDAC1, the channel was active also at transmembrane voltages higher than +/-40 mV and displayed a relatively high open probability even at +/-80 mV. hVDAC3 was only slightly voltage-dependent, displaying a tendency to adopt lower-conductance states at positive voltages applied to the cis chamber. In accordance with the small conductance of the pore, expression of hVDAC3 in a porin-less yeast strain allowed only partial recovery of the growth under non-permissive conditions. Conclusion: The observed electrophysiological properties of hVDAC3 are surprisingly different from the other isoforms and are discussed in relation to the proposed physiological role of the protein in mammalian cells.
Skeletal muscle is a dynamic organ, characterized by an incredible ability to rapidly increase its rate of energy consumption to sustain activity. Muscle mitochondria provide most of the ATP required for contraction via oxidative phosphorylation. Here we found that skeletal muscle mitochondria express a unique MCU complex containing an alternative splice isoform of MICU1, MICU1.1, characterized by the addition of a micro-exon that is sufficient to greatly modify the properties of the MCU. Indeed, MICU1.1 binds Ca one order of magnitude more efficiently than MICU1 and, when heterodimerized with MICU2, activates MCU current at lower Ca concentrations than MICU1-MICU2 heterodimers. In skeletal muscle in vivo, MICU1.1 is required for sustained mitochondrial Ca uptake and ATP production. These results highlight a novel mechanism of the molecular plasticity of the MCU Ca uptake machinery that allows skeletal muscle mitochondria to be highly responsive to sarcoplasmic [Ca] responses.
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