Tissue-Specific Mitochondrial Decoding of Cytoplasmic Ca(2+) Signals Is Controlled by the Stoichiometry of MICU1/2 and MCU.

Paillard M, Csordás G, Szanda G et al.

MitoCare Center, Department of Pathology, Anatomy, and Cell Biology, Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, PA 19107, USA.

Cell reports. Mar 2017.

Mitochondrial Ca(2+) uptake through the Ca(2+) uniporter supports cell functions, including oxidative metabolism, while meeting tissue-specific calcium signaling patterns and energy needs. The molecular mechanisms underlying tissue-specific control of the uniporter are unknown. Here, we investigated a possible role for tissue-specific stoichiometry between the Ca(2+)-sensing regulators (MICUs) and pore unit (MCU) of the uniporter. Low MICU1:MCU protein ratio lowered the [Ca(2+)] threshold for Ca(2+) uptake and activation of oxidative metabolism but decreased the cooperativity of uniporter activation in heart and skeletal muscle compared to liver. In MICU1-overexpressing cells, MICU1 was pulled down by MCU proportionally to MICU1 overexpression, suggesting that MICU1:MCU protein ratio directly reflected their association. Overexpressing MICU1 in the heart increased MICU1:MCU ratio, leading to liver-like mitochondrial Ca(2+) uptake phenotype and cardiac contractile dysfunction. Thus, the proportion of MICU1-free and MICU1-associated MCU controls these tissue-specific uniporter phenotypes and downstream Ca(2+) tuning of oxidative metabolism.