Mitochondrial Ca2+ uptake contributes important feedback controls to limit the time course of Ca2+signals. Mitochondria regulate cytosolic [Ca2+] over an exceptional breath of concentrations (~200 nM to >10 μM) to provide a wide dynamic range in the control of Ca2+ signals. Ca2+ uptake is achieved by passing the ion down the electrochemical gradient, across the inner mitochondria membrane, which itself arises from the export of protons. The proton export process is efficient and on average there are less than three protons free within the mitochondrial matrix. To study mitochondrial function, the most common approaches are to alter the proton gradient and to measure the electrochemical gradient. However, drugs which alter the mitochondrial proton gradient may have substantial off target effects that necessitate careful consideration when interpreting their effect on Ca2+ signals. Measurement of the mitochondrial electrochemical gradient is most often performed using membrane potential sensitive fluorophores. However, the signals arising from these fluorophores have a complex relationship with the electrochemical gradient and are altered by changes in plasma membrane potential. Care is again needed in interpreting results. This review provides a brief description of some of the methods commonly used to alter and measure mitochondrial contribution to Ca2+ signaling in native smooth muscle.
- calcium signalling
- smooth muscle