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Cell Commun Signal. 2011 Sep 22;9:19. doi: 10.1186/1478-811X-9-19.

Calcium signaling around Mitochondria Associated Membranes (MAMs).

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Department of Experimental and Diagnostic Medicine, Section of General Pathology, Interdisciplinary Center for the Study of Inflammation (ICSI), Laboratory for Technologies of Advanced Therapies (LTTA), University of Ferrara, Ferrara, Italy.


Calcium (Ca2+) homeostasis is fundamental for cell metabolism, proliferation, differentiation, and cell death. Elevation in intracellular Ca2+ concentration is dependent either on Ca2+ influx from the extracellular space through the plasma membrane, or on Ca2+ release from intracellular Ca2+ stores, such as the endoplasmic/sarcoplasmic reticulum (ER/SR). Mitochondria are also major components of calcium signalling, capable of modulating both the amplitude and the spatio-temporal patterns of Ca2+ signals. Recent studies revealed zones of close contact between the ER and mitochondria called MAMs (Mitochondria Associated Membranes) crucial for a correct communication between the two organelles, including the selective transmission of physiological and pathological Ca2+ signals from the ER to mitochondria. In this review, we summarize the most up-to-date findings on the modulation of intracellular Ca2+ release and Ca2+ uptake mechanisms. We also explore the tight interplay between ER- and mitochondria-mediated Ca2+ signalling, covering the structural and molecular properties of the zones of close contact between these two networks.

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