Mitochondrial clearance of calcium facilitated by MICU2 controls insulin secretion

N. Vishnu, A. Hamilton, A. Bagge, A. Wernersson, ... H. Mulder


Transport of Ca2+ into pancreatic β cell mitochondria facilitates nutrient-mediated insulin secretion. However, the underlying mechanism is unclear. Recent establishment of the molecular identity of the mitochondrial Ca2+ uniporter (MCU) and associated proteins allows modification of mitochondrial Ca2+ transport in intact cells. We examined the consequences of deficiency of the accessory protein MICU2 in rat and human insulin-secreting cells and mouse islets.


siRNA silencing of Micu2 in the INS-1 832/13 and EndoC-βH1 cell lines was performed; Micu2−/− mice were also studied. Insulin secretion and mechanistic analyses utilizing live confocal imaging to assess mitochondrial function and intracellular Ca2+ dynamics were performed.


Silencing of Micu2 abrogated GSIS in the INS-1 832/13 and EndoC-βH1 cells. The Micu2−/− mice also displayed attenuated GSIS. Mitochondrial Ca2+ uptake declined in MICU2-deficient INS-1 832/13 and EndoC-βH1 cells in response to high glucose and high K+MICU2 silencing in INS-1 832/13 cells, presumably through its effects on mitochondrial Ca2+ uptake, perturbed mitochondrial function illustrated by absent mitochondrial membrane hyperpolarization and lowering of the ATP/ADP ratio in response to elevated glucose. Despite the loss of mitochondrial Ca2+uptake, cytosolic Ca2+ was lower in siMICU2-treated INS-1 832/13 cells in response to high K+. It was hypothesized that Ca2+ accumulated in the submembrane compartment in MICU2-deficient cells, resulting in desensitization of voltage-dependent Ca2+ channels, lowering total cytosolic Ca2+. Upon high K+ stimulation, MICU2-silenced cells showed higher and prolonged increases in submembrane Ca2+ levels.


MICU2 plays a critical role in β cell mitochondrial Ca2+ uptake. β cell mitochondria sequestered Ca2+ from the submembrane compartment, preventing desensitization of voltage-dependent Ca2+ channels and facilitating GSIS.