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IUBMB Life. 2018 Dec;70(12):1222-1232. doi: 10.1002/iub.1931. Epub 2018 Oct 3.

Calcium-regulated mitochondrial ATP-Mg/Pi carriers evolved from a fusion of an EF-hand regulatory domain with a mitochondrial ADP/ATP carrier-like domain.

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School of Biomedical Sciences and Astbury Centre for Structural Molecular Biology, University of Leeds, Leeds, LS2 9JT, UK.
Medical Research Council Mitochondrial Biology Unit, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, CB2 0XY, UK.


The mitochondrial ATP-Mg/Pi carrier is responsible for the calcium-dependent regulation of adenosine nucleotide concentrations in the mitochondrial matrix, which allows mitochondria to respond to changing energy requirements of the cell. The carrier is expressed in mitochondria of fungi, plants and animals and belongs to the family of mitochondrial carriers. The carrier is unusual as it consists of three separate domains: (i) an N-terminal regulatory domain with four calcium-binding EF-hands similar to calmodulin, (ii) a loop domain containing an amphipathic α-helix and (iii) a mitochondrial carrier domain related to the mitochondrial ADP/ATP carrier. This striking example of three domains coming together from different origins to provide new functions represents an interesting quirk of evolution. In this review, we outline how the carrier was identified and how its physiological role was established with a focus on human isoforms. We exploit the sequence and structural information of the domains to explore the similarities and differences to their closest counterparts; mitochondrial ADP/ATP carriers and proteins with four EF-hands. We discuss how their combined function has led to a mechanism for calcium-regulated transport of adenosine nucleotides. Finally, we compare the ATP-Mg/Pi carrier with the mitochondrial aspartate/glutamate carrier, the only other mitochondrial carrier regulated by calcium, and we will argue that they have arisen by convergent rather than divergent evolution. © 2018 The Authors. IUBMB Life published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. on behalf of International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, 70(12):1222-1232, 2018.


evolution; metabolic energy generation; mitochondrial carrier; mitochondrion; translocase; translocator; transport

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