Functional properties and mode of regulation of the mitochondrial Na+/Ca2+ exchanger, NCLX

Marko Kostic, Israel Sekler

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Mitochondrial Ca2+ transient is the earliest discovered organellar Ca2+ signaling pathway. It consist of a Ca2+ influx, mediated by mitochondrial Ca2+ uniporter (MCU), and mitochondrial Ca2+ efflux mediated by a Na+/Ca2+ exchanger (NCLX). Mitochondrial Ca2+ signaling machinery plays a fundamental role in linking metabolic activity to cellular Ca2+ signaling, and in controlling local Ca2+ concertation in distinct cellular compartments. Impaired balance between mitochondrial Ca2+ influx and efflux leads to mitochondrial Ca2+ overload, an early and key event in ischemic or neurodegenerative syndromes. Molecular identification of NCLX and MCU happened only recently. Surprisingly, MCU knockout yielded a relatively mild phenotype while conditional knockout of NCLX led to a rapid fatal heart failure. Here we will focus on recent functional and molecular studies on NCLX structure and its mode of regulation. We will describe the unique crosstalk of this exchanger with Na+ and Ca2+ signaling pathways in the cell membrane and the endoplasmic reticulum, and with protein kinases that posttranslationally modulate NCLX activity. We will critically compare selectivity of pharmacological blockers versus molecular control of NCLX expression and activity. Finally we will discuss why this exchanger is essential for survival and can serve as an attractive therapeutic target.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59-65
Number of pages7
JournalSeminars in Cell and Developmental Biology
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2019


  • Ca and neurodegeneration
  • MCU
  • Mitochondrial Ca signaling
  • NCLX

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology


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