Leucine zipper EF hand-containing transmembrane protein 1 (Letm1) and uncoupling proteins 2 and 3 (UCP2/3) contribute to two distinct mitochondrial Ca2+ uptake pathways.

Research paper by Markus M Waldeck-Weiermair, Claire C Jean-Quartier, Rene R Rost, Muhammad Jadoon MJ Khan, Neelanjan N Vishnu, Alexander I AI Bondarenko, Hiromi H Imamura, Roland R Malli, Wolfgang F WF Graier

Indexed on: 27 May '11Published on: 27 May '11Published in: Journal of Biological Chemistry


Cytosolic Ca(2+) signals are transferred into mitochondria over a huge concentration range. In our recent work we described uncoupling proteins 2 and 3 (UCP2/3) to be fundamental for mitochondrial uptake of high Ca(2+) domains in mitochondria-ER junctions. On the other hand, the leucine zipper EF hand-containing transmembrane protein 1 (Letm1) was identified as a mitochondrial Ca(2+)/H(+) antiporter that achieved mitochondrial Ca(2+) sequestration at small Ca(2+) increases. Thus, the contributions of Letm1 and UCP2/3 to mitochondrial Ca(2+) uptake were compared in endothelial cells. Knock-down of Letm1 did not affect the UCP2/3-dependent mitochondrial uptake of intracellularly released Ca(2+) but strongly diminished the transfer of entering Ca(2+) into mitochondria, subsequently, resulting in a reduction of store-operated Ca(2+) entry (SOCE). Knock-down of Letm1 and UCP2/3 did neither impact on cellular ATP levels nor the membrane potential. The enhanced mitochondrial Ca(2+) signals in cells overexpressing UCP2/3 rescued SOCE upon Letm1 knock-down. In digitonin-permeabilized cells, Letm1 exclusively contributed to mitochondrial Ca(2+) uptake at low Ca(2+) conditions. Neither the Letm1- nor the UCP2/3-dependent mitochondrial Ca(2+) uptake was affected by a knock-down of mRNA levels of mitochondrial calcium uptake 1 (MICU1), a protein that triggers mitochondrial Ca(2+) uptake in HeLa cells. Our data indicate that Letm1 and UCP2/3 independently contribute to two distinct, mitochondrial Ca(2+) uptake pathways in intact endothelial cells.