Calcium signaling around Mitochondria Associated Membranes (MAMs)

Cell Commun Signal. 2011 Sep 22;9:19. doi: 10.1186/1478-811X-9-19.


Calcium (Ca2+) homeostasis is fundamental for cell metabolism, proliferation, differentiation, and cell death. Elevation in intracellular Ca2+ concentration is dependent either on Ca2+ influx from the extracellular space through the plasma membrane, or on Ca2+ release from intracellular Ca2+ stores, such as the endoplasmic/sarcoplasmic reticulum (ER/SR). Mitochondria are also major components of calcium signalling, capable of modulating both the amplitude and the spatio-temporal patterns of Ca2+ signals. Recent studies revealed zones of close contact between the ER and mitochondria called MAMs (Mitochondria Associated Membranes) crucial for a correct communication between the two organelles, including the selective transmission of physiological and pathological Ca2+ signals from the ER to mitochondria. In this review, we summarize the most up-to-date findings on the modulation of intracellular Ca2+ release and Ca2+ uptake mechanisms. We also explore the tight interplay between ER- and mitochondria-mediated Ca2+ signalling, covering the structural and molecular properties of the zones of close contact between these two networks.