MICU1 regulation of mitochondrial Ca(2+) uptake dictates survival and tissue regeneration

Nat Commun. 2016 Mar 9;7:10955. doi: 10.1038/ncomms10955.


Mitochondrial Ca(2+) uptake through the recently discovered Mitochondrial Calcium Uniporter (MCU) is controlled by its gatekeeper Mitochondrial Calcium Uptake 1 (MICU1). However, the physiological and pathological role of MICU1 remains unclear. Here we show that MICU1 is vital for adaptation to postnatal life and for tissue repair after injury. MICU1 knockout is perinatally lethal in mice without causing gross anatomical defects. We used liver regeneration after partial hepatectomy as a physiological stress response model. Upon MICU1 loss, early priming is unaffected, but the pro-inflammatory phase does not resolve and liver regeneration fails, with impaired cell cycle entry and extensive necrosis. Ca(2+) overload-induced mitochondrial permeability transition pore (PTP) opening is accelerated in MICU1-deficient hepatocytes. PTP inhibition prevents necrosis and rescues regeneration. Thus, our study identifies an unanticipated dependence of liver regeneration on MICU1 and highlights the importance of regulating MCU under stress conditions when the risk of Ca(2+) overload is elevated.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Calcium / metabolism*
  • Calcium-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • Calcium-Binding Proteins / metabolism*
  • Cell Survival
  • Female
  • Hepatocytes / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Liver / physiology
  • Liver Regeneration*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Mitochondria / genetics
  • Mitochondria / metabolism*
  • Mitochondrial Membrane Transport Proteins / genetics
  • Mitochondrial Membrane Transport Proteins / metabolism*
  • Mitochondrial Permeability Transition Pore


  • Calcium-Binding Proteins
  • MICU1 protein, mouse
  • Mitochondrial Membrane Transport Proteins
  • Mitochondrial Permeability Transition Pore
  • Calcium