a b s t r a c t Mitochondria produce around 92% of the ATP used in the typical animal cell by oxidative phosphorylation using energy from their electrochemical proton gradient. Intramitochondrial free Ca 2+ concentration ([Ca 2+ ] m) has been found to be an important component of control of the rate of this ATP production. In addition, [Ca 2+ ] m also controls the opening of a large pore in the inner mitochondrial membrane, the permeability transition pore (PTP), which plays a role in mitochondrial control of programmed cell death or apoptosis. Therefore, [Ca 2+ ] m can control whether the cell has sufficient ATP to fulfill its functions and survive or is condemned to death. Ca 2+ is also one of the most important second messengers within the cytosol, signaling changes in cellular response through Ca 2+ pulses or transients. Mitochondria can also sequester Ca 2+ from these transients so as to modify the shape of Ca 2+ signaling transients or control their location within the cell. All of this is controlled by the action of four or five mitochondrial Ca 2+ transport mechanisms and the PTP. The characteristics of these mechanisms of Ca 2+ transport and a discussion of how they might function are described in this paper.
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