A sharp increase in mitochondrial Ca2+ marks the activation of brown adipose tissue (BAT) thermogenesis, yet the mechanisms preventing Ca2+ deleterious effects are poorly understood. Here, we show that adrenergic stimulation of BAT activates a PKA-dependent mitochondrial Ca2+ extrusion via the mitochondrial Na+/Ca2+ exchanger, NCLX. Adrenergic stimulation of NCLX-null brown adipocytes (BA) induces a profound mitochondrial Ca2+ overload and impaired uncoupled respiration. Core body temperature, PET imaging of glucose uptake and VO2 measurements confirm a thermogenic defect in NCLX-null mice. We show that Ca2+ overload induced by adrenergic stimulation of NCLX-null BAT, triggers the mitochondrial permeability transition pore (mPTP) opening, leading to a remarkable mitochondrial swelling and cell death. Treatment with mPTP inhibitors rescue mitochondrial function and thermogenesis in NCLX-null BAT, while calcium overload persists. Our findings identify a key pathway through which BA evade apoptosis during adrenergic stimulation of uncoupling. NCLX deletion transforms the adrenergic pathway responsible for thermogenesis activation into a death pathway.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Chemistry (all)
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology (all)
- Physics and Astronomy (all)