PKA Phosphorylation of NCLX Reverses Mitochondrial Calcium Overload and Depolarization, Promoting Survival of PINK1-Deficient Dopaminergic Neurons

Kostic, M and Ludtmann, M H R and Bading, H and Hershfinkel, M and Steer, E and Chu, C T and Abramov, A Y and Sekler, I (2015) PKA Phosphorylation of NCLX Reverses Mitochondrial Calcium Overload and Depolarization, Promoting Survival of PINK1-Deficient Dopaminergic Neurons. Cell Reports, 13 (2). pp. 376-386.

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Abstract

Mitochondrial Ca2+ overload is a critical, preceding event in neuronal damage encountered during neurodegenerative and ischemic insults. We found that loss of PTEN-induced putative kinase 1 (PINK1) function, implicated in Parkinson disease, inhibits the mitochondrial Na+/Ca2+ exchanger (NCLX), leading to impaired mitochondrial Ca2+ extrusion. NCLX activity was, however, fully rescued by activation of the protein kinase A (PKA) pathway. We further show that PKA rescues NCLX activity by phosphorylating serine 258, a putative regulatory NCLX site. Remarkably, a constitutively active phosphomimetic mutant of NCLX (NCLXS258D) prevents mitochondrial Ca2+ overload and mitochondrial depolarization in PINK1 knockout neurons, thereby enhancing neuronal survival. Our results identify an mitochondrial Ca2+ transport regulatory pathway that protects against mitochondrial Ca2+ overload. Because mitochondrial Ca2+ dyshomeostasis is a prominent feature of multiple disorders, the link between NCLX and PKA may offer a therapeutic target.