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EMRE Is an Essential Component of the Mitochondrial Calcium Uniporter Complex

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Science  13 Dec 2013:
Vol. 342, Issue 6164, pp. 1379-1382
DOI: 10.1126/science.1242993

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EMRE Emerges

Concentrations of calcium within mitochondria are tightly regulated and modulate physiological mitochondrial functions, including control of metabolism and cell death. Sancak et al. (p. 1379, published online 14 November) complete the molecular characterization of the mitochondrial calcium uniporter (MCU), the multicomponent channel that allows concentration of calcium within the organelle. They identified a small protein termed “essential MCU regulator”—or EMRE—which was required for calcium transport activity of the fully assembled uniporter.

Abstract

The mitochondrial uniporter is a highly selective calcium channel in the organelle’s inner membrane. Its molecular components include the EF-hand–containing calcium-binding proteins mitochondrial calcium uptake 1 (MICU1) and MICU2 and the pore-forming subunit mitochondrial calcium uniporter (MCU). We sought to achieve a full molecular characterization of the uniporter holocomplex (uniplex). Quantitative mass spectrometry of affinity-purified uniplex recovered MICU1 and MICU2, MCU and its paralog MCUb, and essential MCU regulator (EMRE), a previously uncharacterized protein. EMRE is a 10-kilodalton, metazoan-specific protein with a single transmembrane domain. In its absence, uniporter channel activity was lost despite intact MCU expression and oligomerization. EMRE was required for the interaction of MCU with MICU1 and MICU2. Hence, EMRE is essential for in vivo uniporter current and additionally bridges the calcium-sensing role of MICU1 and MICU2 with the calcium-conducting role of MCU.

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