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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1999 Nov 23;96(24):13807-12.

Regulation of mitochondrial ATP synthesis by calcium: evidence for a long-term metabolic priming.

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Department of Biomedical Sciences, Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche Center for Study of Biomembranes, University of Padova, 35131 Padova, Italy.


In recent years, mitochondria have emerged as important targets of agonist-dependent increases in cytosolic Ca(2+) concentration. Here, we analyzed the significance of Ca(2+) signals for the modulation of organelle function by directly measuring mitochondrial and cytosolic ATP levels ([ATP](m) and [ATP](c), respectively) with specifically targeted chimeras of the ATP-dependent photoprotein luciferase. In both HeLa cells and primary cultures of skeletal myotubes, stimulation with agonists evoking cytosolic and mitochondrial Ca(2+) signals caused increases in [ATP](m) and [ATP](c) that depended on two parameters: (i) the amplitude of the Ca(2+) rise in the mitochondrial matrix, and (ii) the availability of mitochondrial substrates. Moreover, the Ca(2+) elevation induced a long-lasting priming that persisted long after agonist washout and caused a major increase in [ATP](m) upon addition of oxidative substrates. These results demonstrate a direct role of mitochondrial Ca(2+) in driving ATP production and unravel a form of cellular memory that allows a prolonged metabolic activation in stimulated cells.

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