A Genetic Toolset for the Mitochondrial Calcium Uniporter

A study published today in Cell Reports led by Dr Alex Whitworth’s Mitochondrial Neurodegeneration group, in collaboration with scientists from the University of Padova, report the generation of a comprehensive toolkit for analysing the mitochondrial calcium uniporter in Drosophila.

The uptake of calcium by mitochondria regulates many cellular processes as diverse as bioenergetics and cell death. Drosophila are a genetically powerful model to understand these processes.

Flies lacking the essential channel components MCU or EMRE are completely viable, with only mild phenotypes at an early age but lifespan is reduced. In contrast, MICU1 KO causes developmental lethal, consistent with loss of its gatekeeping activity leading to unregulated Ca2+ uptake. Most surprisingly, this was not rescued by loss of MCU or EMRE, suggesting a uniporter-independent role of MICU1. These reagents will be an important resource for investigating the diversity of uniporter function in health and disease.