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Biochem J. 2012 May 1;443(3):747-55. doi: 10.1042/BJ20110765.

Cytosolic Ca2+ regulates the energization of isolated brain mitochondria by formation of pyruvate through the malate-aspartate shuttle.

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Department of Behavioral Neurology, Leibniz Institute for Neurobiology, 39118 Magdeburg, Germany.


The glutamate-dependent respiration of isolated BM (brain mitochondria) is regulated by Ca2+(cyt) (cytosolic Ca2+) (S0.5=225±22 nM) through its effects on aralar. We now also demonstrate that the α-glycerophosphate-dependent respiration is controlled by Ca2+(cyt) (S0.5=60±10 nM). At higher Ca2+(cyt) (>600 nM), BM accumulate Ca2+ which enhances the rate of intramitochondrial dehydrogenases. The Ca2+-induced increments of state 3 respiration decrease with substrate in the order glutamate>α-oxoglutarate>isocitrate>α-glycerophosphate>pyruvate. Whereas the oxidation of pyruvate is only slightly influenced by Ca2+(cyt), we show that the formation of pyruvate is tightly controlled by Ca2+(cyt). Through its common substrate couple NADH/NAD+, the formation of pyruvate by LDH (lactate dehydrogenase) is linked to the MAS (malate-aspartate shuttle) with aralar as a central component. A rise in Ca2+(cyt) in a reconstituted system consisting of BM, cytosolic enzymes of MAS and LDH causes an up to 5-fold enhancement of OXPHOS (oxidative phosphorylation) rates that is due to an increased substrate supply, acting in a manner similar to a 'gas pedal'. In contrast, Ca2+(mit) (intramitochondrial Ca2+) regulates the oxidation rates of substrates which are present within the mitochondrial matrix. We postulate that Ca2+(cyt) is a key factor in adjusting the mitochondrial energization to the requirements of intact neurons.

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