Investigating dynamic spatial interactions between mitochondria and ER in living plant cells and their possible role in controlling mitochondrial calcium flux
Mitochondria are dynamic organelles known primarily for their roles in oxidative metabolism and programmed cell death. Both of these processes are regulated by the mitochondrial matrix calcium concentration. Little is known about how mitochondrial calcium is regulated: no plant mitochondrial Ca2+-ATPase pumps or no mitochondrial Ca2+ channels have been identified to date. In addition, little is known concerning any physical interactions between mitochondria and endoplasmic reticulum (ER), an important cellular calcium store, and how these modulate cellular calcium fluxes. In this work stable transgenic Arabidopsis lines expressing fluorescent marker proteins were generated to allow visualisation of mitochondria and the ER in the same cells, and to measure mitochondrial calcium fluxes using aequorin. According to my results, there is a physical association between mitochondria and ER and this association cannot be disrupted by chemical treatments (latrunculin B, methyl viologen and antimycin A). As part of this work I identified an Arabidopsis gene, Mitochondrial Calcium Uptake 1 (MCU1), which encodes a protein with features that suggest a role in mitochondrial calcium dynamics. Fluorescent protein fusions of this protein demonstrated that it localizes to mitochondria. An Arabidopsis T-DNA line was identified with an insertion in MCU1. However, little effect of the insertion on transcript abundance of MCU1 was observed.
Endoplasmic reticulum (ER)Mitochondrial Calcium Uptake 1 (MICU1)
Master of Science (M.Sc.)