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Biochem J. Jul 15, 1980; 190(1): 107–117.
PMCID: PMC1162068

Role of calcium ions in the regulation of intramitochondrial metabolism. Effects of Na+, Mg2+ and ruthenium red on the Ca2+-stimulated oxidation of oxoglutarate and on pyruvate dehydrogenase activity in intact rat heart mitochondria.


1. In uncoupled rat heart mitochondria, the kinetic parameters for oxoglutarate oxidation were very close to those found for oxoglutarate dehydrogenase activity in extracts of the mitochondria. In particular, Ca2+ greatly diminished the Km for oxoglutarate and the k0.5 value (concentration required for half-maximal effect) for this effect of Ca2+ was close to 1 microM. 2. In coupled rat heart mitochondria incubated with ADP, increases in the extramitochondrial concentration of Ca2+ greatly stimulated oxoglutarate oxidation at low concentrations of oxoglutarate, but not at saturating concentrations of oxoglutarate. The k0.5 value for the activation by extramitochondrial Ca2+ was about 20 nM. In the presence of either Mg2+ or Na+ this value was increased to about 90 nM, and in the presence of both to about 325 nM. 3. In coupled rat heart mitochondria incubated without ADP, increases in the extramitochondrial concentration of Ca2+ resulted in increases in the proportion of pyruvate dehydrogenase in its active non-phosphorylated form. The sensitivity to Ca2+ closely matched that found to affect oxoglutarate oxidation, and Mg2+ and Na+ gave similar effects. 4. Studies of others have indicated that the distribution of Ca2+ across the inner membrane of heart mitochondria is determined by a Ca2+-transporting system which is composed of a separate uptake component (inhibited by Mg2+ and Ruthenium Red) and an efflux component (stimulated by Na+). The present studies are entirely consistent with this view. They also indicate that the intramitochondrial concentration of Ca2+ within heart cells is probably about 2--3 times that in the cytoplasm, and thus the regulation of these intramitochondrial enzymes by Ca2+ is of likely physiological significance. It is suggested that the Ca2+-transporting system in heart mitochondria may be primarily concerned with the regulation of mitochondrial Ca2+ rather than cytoplasmic Ca2+; the possible role of Ca2+ as a mediator of the effects of hormones and neurotransmitters on mammalian mitochondrial oxidative metabolism is discussed.

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Selected References

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