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Ca2+ shuttling between endoplasmic reticulum and mitochondria underlying Ca2+ oscillations

  • Kiyoaki Ishii
  • Kenzo Hirose
  • Masamitsu Iino
Publication Date
Jan 13, 2006
  • Biology


Although many cell functions are regulated by Ca2+ oscillations induced by a cyclic release of Ca2+ from intracellular Ca2+ stores, the pacemaker mechanism of Ca2+ oscillations remains to be explained. Using green fluorescent protein-based Ca2+ indicators that are targeted to intracellular Ca2+ stores, the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and mitochondria, we found that Ca2+ shuttles between the ER and mitochondria in phase with Ca2+ oscillations. Following agonist stimulation, Ca2+ release from the ER generated the first Ca2+ oscillation and loaded mitochondria with Ca2+. Before the second Ca2+ oscillation, Ca2+ release from the mitochondria by means of the Na+/Ca2+ exchanger caused a gradual increase in cytoplasmic Ca2+ concentration, inducing a regenerative ER Ca2+ release, which generated the peak of Ca2+ oscillation and partially reloaded the mitochondria. This sequence of events was repeated until mitochondrial Ca2+ was depleted. Thus, Ca2+ shuttling between the ER and mitochondria may have a pacemaker role in the generation of Ca2+ oscillations.

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