Keeping zombies alive: The ER-mitochondria Ca 2+ transfer in cellular senescence

Biochim Biophys Acta Mol Cell Res. 2021 Jul 16;1868(11):119099. doi: 10.1016/j.bbamcr.2021.119099. Online ahead of print.

Abstract

Cellular senescence generates a permanent cell cycle arrest, characterized by apoptosis resistance and a pro-inflammatory senescence-associated secretory phenotype (SASP). Physiologically, senescent cells promote tissue remodeling during development and after injury. However, when accumulated over a certain threshold as happens during aging or after cellular stress, senescent cells contribute to the functional decline of tissues, participating in the generation of several diseases. Cellular senescence is accompanied by increased mitochondrial metabolism. How mitochondrial function is regulated and what role it plays in senescent cell homeostasis is poorly understood. Mitochondria are functionally and physically coupled to the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), the major calcium (Ca2+) storage organelle in mammalian cells, through special domains known as mitochondria-ER contacts (MERCs). In this domain, the release of Ca2+ from the ER is mainly regulated by inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate receptors (IP3Rs), a family of three Ca2+ release channels activated by a ligand (IP3). IP3R-mediated Ca2+ release is transferred to mitochondria through the mitochondrial Ca2+ uniporter (MCU), where it modulates the activity of several enzymes and transporters impacting its bioenergetic and biosynthetic function. Here, we review the possible connection between ER to mitochondria Ca2+ transfer and senescence. Understanding the pathways that contribute to senescence is essential to reveal new therapeutic targets that allow either delaying senescent cell accumulation or reduce senescent cell burden to alleviate multiple diseases.

Keywords: Calcium; MERCs; Metabolism; Mitochondria; Senescence.

Publication types

  • Review