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EMBO Rep. 2006 Apr;7(4):390-6. Epub 2006 Jan 13.

Ca2+ shuttling between endoplasmic reticulum and mitochondria underlying Ca2+ oscillations.

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  • 1Department of Pharmacology, Graduate School of Medicine, The University of Tokyo, Bunkyo-ku, Japan.


Although many cell functions are regulated by Ca(2+) oscillations induced by a cyclic release of Ca(2+) from intracellular Ca(2+) stores, the pacemaker mechanism of Ca(2+) oscillations remains to be explained. Using green fluorescent protein-based Ca(2+) indicators that are targeted to intracellular Ca(2+) stores, the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and mitochondria, we found that Ca(2+) shuttles between the ER and mitochondria in phase with Ca(2+) oscillations. Following agonist stimulation, Ca(2+) release from the ER generated the first Ca(2+) oscillation and loaded mitochondria with Ca(2+). Before the second Ca(2+) oscillation, Ca(2+) release from the mitochondria by means of the Na(+)/Ca(2+) exchanger caused a gradual increase in cytoplasmic Ca(2+) concentration, inducing a regenerative ER Ca(2+) release, which generated the peak of Ca(2+) oscillation and partially reloaded the mitochondria. This sequence of events was repeated until mitochondrial Ca(2+) was depleted. Thus, Ca(2+) shuttling between the ER and mitochondria may have a pacemaker role in the generation of Ca(2+) oscillations.

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