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Drug Discovery Assay to Identify Modulators of the Mitochondrial Ca2+ Uniporter.

Methods Mol Biol. 2021;2277:69-89. doi: 10.1007/978-1-0716-1270-5_5. PMID: 34080145.

Authors/Editors: Arduino DM, Goh V, Mokranjac D, Perocchi F.
Publication Date: 2021


The mitochondrial calcium uniporter (MCU) is an essential protein of the inner mitochondrial membrane that mediates the uptake of calcium into mitochondria of virtually all mammalian tissues, regulating cell metabolism, signaling, and death. MCU-mediated calcium uptake has been shown to play a pathophysiological role in diverse human disease contexts, which qualifies this channel as a druggable target for therapeutic intervention.

Here, we present a protocol to perform drug screens to identify effective and specific MCU-targeting inhibitors. The methodology is based on the use of cryopreserved mitochondria that are isolated from a yeast strain engineered to express the human MCU and its essential regulator EMRE together with the luminescence calcium sensor aequorin. Yeast mitochondria with a functionally reconstituted MCU-mediated calcium uptake are then employed as a ready-to-use screening reagent. False discovery rate is further minimized by energizing mitochondria with D-lactate in a mannitol/sucrose-based medium, which provides a mean to discriminate between direct and secondary effects of drugs on mitochondrial calcium uptake. This screening assay is sensitive and robust and can be easily implemented in any laboratory.


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