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J Biol Chem. 1992 Feb 15;267(5):2934-9.

Modulation of the mitochondrial permeability transition pore. Effect of protons and divalent cations.

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  • 1Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche Unit for the Study of Physiology of Mitochondria, University of Padova, Italy.


We have studied the induction of the mitochondrial cyclosporin A-sensitive permeability transition pore (PTP) by the bifunctional SH group reagent phenylarsine oxide (PhAsO). Addition of nanomolar concentrations of the electroneutral H(+)-K+ ionophore nigericin to nonrespiring mitochondria in sucrose medium determines a dramatic increase of the time required for PTP induction by PhAsO, while no effect of nigericin is apparent in KCl medium. Using mitochondria loaded with the internal pH indicator 2',7'-bis(carboxyethyl)-5(6)-carboxyfluorescein, we show that the effect of nigericin is mediated by the ionophore-induced acidification of matrix pH. Indeed, experimental manipulation of pHi by a number of treatments indicates that PTP induction is directly related to matrix pH, in that the PTP induction process becomes slower as pHi decreases at constant pHo. PTP induction by PhAsO in respiration-inhibited mitochondria is stimulated by Ca2+ and inhibited by a series of divalent cations. Since PhAsO induces the PTP even in the presence of excess EGTA and in the absence of respiration (Lenartowicz, E., Bernardi, P., and Azzone, G.F. (1991) J. Bioenerg. Biomembr. 23, 679-688), we have been able to study the Ca2+ dependence of the induction process. We show that the apparent Km for Ca2+ activation is about 10(-5) M and that Ca2+, cyclosporin A, and inhibitory Me2+ ions behave as if they were competing for the same binding site(s) on the pore. Since similar results are obtained from patch-clamp experiments on the mitochondrial megachannel (Szabó, I., Bernardi, P., and Zoratti, M. (1992) J. Biol. Chem. 267, 2940-2946), we suggest that (i) the PTP and the mitochondrial megachannel are the same molecular structures and (ii) the same factors affect both the process of pore induction and its open-closed orientation.

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