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Nature

X-ray and cryo-EM structures of the mitochondrial calcium uniporter.


PMID 29995856

Abstract

Mitochondrial calcium uptake is critical for regulating ATP production, intracellular calcium signalling, and cell death. This uptake is mediated by a highly selective calcium channel called the mitochondrial calcium uniporter (MCU). Here, we determined the structures of the pore-forming MCU proteins from two fungi by X-ray crystallography and single-particle cryo-electron microscopy. The stoichiometry, overall architecture, and individual subunit structure differed markedly from those described in the recent nuclear magnetic resonance structure of Caenorhabditis elegans MCU. We observed a dimer-of-dimer architecture across species and chemical environments, which was corroborated by biochemical experiments. Structural analyses and functional characterization uncovered the roles of key residues in the pore. These results reveal a new ion channel architecture, provide insights into calcium coordination, selectivity and conduction, and establish a structural framework for understanding the mechanism of mitochondrial calcium uniporter function.