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Open Access Publications from the University of California

A Selective and Cell-Permeable Mitochondrial Calcium Uniporter (MCU) Inhibitor Preserves Mitochondrial Bioenergetics after Hypoxia/Reoxygenation Injury


Mitochondrial Ca2+ (mCa2+) uptake mediated by the mitochondrial calcium uniporter (MCU) plays a critical role in signal transduction, bioenergetics, and cell death, and its dysregulation is linked to several human diseases. In this study, we report a new ruthenium complex Ru265 that is cell-permeable, minimally toxic, and highly potent with respect to MCU inhibition. Cells treated with Ru265 show inhibited MCU activity without any effect on cytosolic Ca2+ dynamics and mitochondrial membrane potential (ΔΨm). Dose-dependent studies reveal that Ru265 is more potent than the currently employed MCU inhibitor Ru360. Site-directed mutagenesis of Cys97 in the N-terminal domain of human MCU ablates the inhibitory activity of Ru265, suggesting that this matrix-residing domain is its target site. Additionally, Ru265 prevented hypoxia/reoxygenation injury and subsequent mitochondrial dysfunction, demonstrating that this new inhibitor is a valuable tool for studying the functional role of the MCU in intact biological models.

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