The mitochondrial uniporter (MCU) is an ion channel that mediates Ca(2+) uptake into the matrix to regulate metabolism, cell death, and cytoplasmic Ca(2+) signaling. Matrix Ca(2+) concentration is similar to that in cytoplasm, despite an enormous driving force for entry, but the mechanisms that prevent mitochondrial Ca(2+) overload are unclear. Here, we show that MCU channel activity is governed by matrix Ca(2+) concentration through EMRE. Deletion or charge neutralization of its matrix-localized acidic C terminus abolishes matrix Ca(2+) inhibition of MCU Ca(2+) currents, resulting in MCU channel activation, enhanced mitochondrial Ca(2+) uptake, and constitutively elevated matrix Ca(2+) concentration. EMRE-dependent regulation of MCU channel activity requires intermembrane space-localized MICU1, MICU2, and cytoplasmic Ca(2+). Thus, mitochondria are protected from Ca(2+) depletion and Ca(2+) overload by a unique molecular complex that involves Ca(2+) sensors on both sides of the inner mitochondrial membrane, coupled through EMRE.
Copyright © 2016 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.