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Mitochondrial Ca²⁺ sequestration and precipitation revisited

Chinopoulos, Christos, Adam-Vizi, Vera
FEBS journal 2010 v.277 no.18 pp. 3637-3651
adenine nucleotides, calcium, cations, cell death, mitochondria, oxidative phosphorylation, signal transduction, thermodynamics
The ability of mitochondria to sequester and retain divalent cations in the form of precipitates consisting of organic and inorganic moieties has been known for decades. Of these cations, Ca²⁺ has emerged as a major player in both signal transduction and cell death mechanisms, and, as a consequence, the importance of mitochondria in these processes was soon recognized. Early studies showed considerable effort in identifying the mechanisms of Ca²⁺ sequestration, precipitation and release by uncouplers of oxidative phosphorylation; however, relatively little information was obtained, and these processes were eventually taken for granted. Here, we re-examine: (a) the thermodynamic aspects of mitochondrial Ca²⁺ uptake and release, (b) the insufficiently explained effect of uncouplers in inducing mitochondrial Ca²⁺ release, (c) the thermodynamic effects of exogenously added adenine nucleotides on mitochondrial Ca²⁺ uptake capacity and precipitate formation, and (d) the elusive nature of the Ca²⁺-phosphate precipitates formed in the mitochondrial matrix.