Mitochondrial potassium channels: A novel calcitriol target

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Background: Calcitriol (an active metabolite of vitamin D) modulates the expression of hundreds of human genes by activation of the vitamin D nuclear receptor (VDR). However, VDR-mediated transcriptional modulation does not fully explain various phenotypic effects of calcitriol. Recently a fast non-genomic response to vitamin D has been described, and it seems that mitochondria are one of the targets of calcitriol. These non-classical calcitriol targets open up a new area of research with potential clinical applications. The goal of our study was to ascertain whether calcitriol can modulate mitochondrial function through regulation of the potassium channels present in the inner mitochondrial membrane. Methods: The effects of calcitriol on the potassium ion current were measured using the patch-clamp method modified for the inner mitochondrial membrane. Molecular docking experiments were conducted in the Autodock4 program. Additionally, changes in gene expression were investigated by qPCR, and transcription factor binding sites were analyzed in the CiiiDER program. Results: For the first time, our results indicate that calcitriol directly affects the activity of the mitochondrial large-conductance Ca2+-regulated potassium channel (mitoBKCa) from the human astrocytoma (U-87 MG) cell line but not the mitochondrial calcium-independent two-pore domain potassium channel (mitoTASK-3) from human keratinocytes (HaCaT). The open probability of the mitoBKCa channel in high calcium conditions decreased after calcitriol treatment and the opposite effect was observed in low calcium conditions. Moreover, using the AutoDock4 program we predicted the binding poses of calcitriol to the calcium-bound BKCa channel and identified amino acids interacting with the calcitriol molecule. Additionally, we found that calcitriol influences the expression of genes encoding potassium channels. Such a dual, genomic and non-genomic action explains the pleiotropic activity of calcitriol. Conclusions: Calcitriol can regulate the mitochondrial large-conductance calcium-regulated potassium channel. Our data open a new chapter in the study of non-genomic responses to vitamin D with potential implications for mitochondrial bioenergetics and cytoprotective mechanisms.




Olszewska, A. M., Sieradzan, A. K., Bednarczyk, P., Szewczyk, A., & Żmijewski, M. A. (2022, December 1). Mitochondrial potassium channels: A novel calcitriol target. Cellular and Molecular Biology Letters. BioMed Central Ltd.

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