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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1994 Dec 20;91(26):12579-83.

Physiological cytosolic Ca2+ transients evoke concurrent mitochondrial depolarizations.

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Department of Physiology, University of Connecticut Health Center, Farmington 06030.


Calcium, a ubiquitous second messenger, stimulates the activity of several mitochondrial dehydrogenases. This has led to the suggestion that the same messenger that signals cell activation could also activate mitochondrial electron/proton transport, thereby meeting demands for increased cellular energy. To test this in live cells, quantitative three-dimensional microscopy and ratio imaging were used to measure membrane potential of individual mitochondria and cytosolic calcium distribution. Mitochondria reversibly depolarized as cytosolic calcium rose and then fell following physiological stimulation. Thus, the dominant response of the mitochondrion to a rise in cytosolic [Ca2+] is to draw on the electrochemical potential, possibly to accelerate processes directly involved in ATP synthesis and calcium homeostasis.

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