Ca(2+) is an important regulatory ion and alteration of mitochondrial Ca(2+) homeostasis can lead to cellular dysfunction and apoptosis. Ca(2+) is transported into respiring mitochondria via the Ca(2+) uniporter, which is known to be inhibited by Mg(2+). This uniporter-mediated mitochondrial Ca(2+) transport is also shown to be influenced by inorganic phosphate (Pi). Despite a large number of experimental studies, the kinetic mechanisms associated with the Mg(2+) inhibition and Pi regulation of the uniporter function are not well established. To gain a quantitative understanding of the effects of Mg(2+) and Pi on the uniporter function, we developed here a mathematical model based on known kinetic properties of the uniporter and presumed Mg(2+) inhibition and Pi regulation mechanisms. The model is extended from our previous model of the uniporter that is based on a multistate catalytic binding and interconversion mechanism and Eyring's free energy barrier theory for interconversion. The model satisfactorily describes a wide variety of experimental data sets on the kinetics of mitochondrial Ca(2+) uptake. The model also appropriately depicts the inhibitory effect of Mg(2+) on the uniporter function, in which Ca(2+) uptake is hyperbolic in the absence of Mg(2+) and sigmoid in the presence of Mg(2+). The model suggests a mixed-type inhibition mechanism for Mg(2+) inhibition of the uniporter function. This model is critical for building mechanistic models of mitochondrial bioenergetics and Ca(2+) handling to understand the mechanisms by which Ca(2+) mediates signaling pathways and modulates energy metabolism.
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