New insights into the role of mitochondrial calcium homeostasis in cell migration

07 Aug 2017

Mitochondria are dynamic organelles involved in numerous physiological functions. Beyond their function in ATP production, mitochondria regulate cell death, reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation, immunity and metabolism. Mitochondria also play a key role in the buffering of cytosolic calcium, and calcium transported into the matrix regulates mitochondrial metabolism. Recently, the identification of the mitochondrial calcium uniporter (MCU) and associated regulators has allowed the characterization of new physiological roles for calcium in both mitochondrial and cellular homeostasis. Indeed, recent work has highlighted the importance of mitochondrial calcium homeostasis in regulating cell migration. Cell migration is a property common to all metazoans and is critical to embryogenesis, cancer progression, wound-healing and immune surveillance. Previous work has established that cytoplasmic calcium is a key regulator of cell migration, as oscillations in cytosolic calcium activate cytoskeletal remodelling, actin contraction and focal adhesion (FA) turnover necessary for cell movement. Recent work using animal models and $\textit{in cellulo}$ experiments to genetically modulate MCU and partners have shed new light on the role of mitochondrial calcium dynamics in cytoskeletal remodelling through the modulation of ATP and ROS production, as well as intracellular calcium signalling. This review focuses on MCU and its regulators in cell migration during physiological and pathophysiological processes including development and cancer. We also present hypotheses to explain the molecular mechanisms by which MCU may regulate mitochondrial dynamics and motility to drive cell migration.