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Physiol Rev. 1999 Oct;79(4):1127-55.

Mitochondrial transport of cations: channels, exchangers, and permeability transition.

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  • 1Department of Biomedical Sciences, University of Padova, and Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche Center for the Study of Biomembranes, Padova, Italy.


This review provides a selective history of how studies of mitochondrial cation transport (K+, Na+, Ca2+) developed in relation to the major themes of research in bioenergetics. It then covers in some detail specific transport pathways for these cations, and it introduces and discusses open problems about their nature and physiological function, particularly in relation to volume regulation and Ca2+ homeostasis. The review should provide the basic elements needed to understand both earlier mitochondrial literature and current problems associated with mitochondrial transport of cations and hopefully will foster new interest in the molecular definition of mitochondrial cation channels and exchangers as well as their roles in cell physiology.

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