Open Access Highly Accessed Review

Calcium signaling around Mitochondria Associated Membranes (MAMs)

Simone Patergnani1, Jan M Suski12, Chiara Agnoletto1, Angela Bononi1, Massimo Bonora1, Elena De Marchi1, Carlotta Giorgi1, Saverio Marchi1, Sonia Missiroli1, Federica Poletti1, Alessandro Rimessi1, Jerzy Duszynski2, Mariusz R Wieckowski2 and Paolo Pinton1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Experimental and Diagnostic Medicine, Section of General Pathology, Interdisciplinary Center for the Study of Inflammation (ICSI), Laboratory for Technologies of Advanced Therapies (LTTA), University of Ferrara, Ferrara, Italy

2 Nencki Institute of Experimental Biology, Warsaw, Poland

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Cell Communication and Signaling 2011, 9:19  doi:10.1186/1478-811X-9-19

Published: 22 September 2011

Abstract

Calcium (Ca2+) homeostasis is fundamental for cell metabolism, proliferation, differentiation, and cell death. Elevation in intracellular Ca2+ concentration is dependent either on Ca2+ influx from the extracellular space through the plasma membrane, or on Ca2+ release from intracellular Ca2+ stores, such as the endoplasmic/sarcoplasmic reticulum (ER/SR). Mitochondria are also major components of calcium signalling, capable of modulating both the amplitude and the spatio-temporal patterns of Ca2+ signals. Recent studies revealed zones of close contact between the ER and mitochondria called MAMs (Mitochondria Associated Membranes) crucial for a correct communication between the two organelles, including the selective transmission of physiological and pathological Ca2+ signals from the ER to mitochondria. In this review, we summarize the most up-to-date findings on the modulation of intracellular Ca2+ release and Ca2+ uptake mechanisms. We also explore the tight interplay between ER- and mitochondria-mediated Ca2+ signalling, covering the structural and molecular properties of the zones of close contact between these two networks.