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Mol Cell. 2010 Apr 23;38(2):280-90. doi: 10.1016/j.molcel.2010.04.003.

Ca2+ hot spots on the mitochondrial surface are generated by Ca2+ mobilization from stores, but not by activation of store-operated Ca2+ channels.

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Department of Biomedical Sciences, University of Padova, Padova, Italy.


Although it is widely accepted that mitochondria in living cells can efficiently uptake Ca(2+) during stimulation because of their vicinity to microdomains of high [Ca(2+)], the direct proof of Ca(2+) hot spots' existence is still lacking. Thanks to a GFP-based Ca(2+) probe localized on the cytosolic surface of the outer mitochondrial membrane, we demonstrate that, upon Ca(2+) mobilization, the [Ca(2+)] in small regions of the mitochondrial surface reaches levels 5- to 10-fold higher than in the bulk cytosol. We also show that the [Ca(2+)] to which mitochondria are exposed during capacitative Ca(2+) influx is similar between near plasma membrane mitochondria and organelles deeply located in the cytoplasm, whereas it is 2- to 3-fold higher in subplasma membrane mitochondria upon activation of voltage-gated Ca(2+) channels. These results demonstrate that mitochondria are exposed to Ca(2+) hot spots close to the ER but are excluded from the regions where capacitative Ca(2+) influx occurs.

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