Document Type


Date of Degree

Fall 2018

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In


First Advisor

Usachev, Yuriy

First Committee Member

Taylor, Eric B.

Second Committee Member

Strack, Stefan

Third Committee Member

Lee, Amy

Fourth Committee Member

Song, Long-Sheng


During neuronal activity mitochondria alter cytosolic Ca2+ signaling by buffering then releasing Ca2+ in the cytosol. This calcium transport by mitochondria affects the amplitude, duration, and spacial profile of the Ca2+ signal in the cytosol of neurons. This buffering by mitochondria has been shown to affect a variety of neuronal functions including: neurotransmission, gene expression, cell excitability, and cell death. Recently, researchers discovered that the protein CCDC109A (mitochondrial Ca2+ uniporter) was the protein responsible for mitochondrial Ca2+ uptake. Using a genetic knockout (KO) mouse model for the mitochondrial Ca2+ uniporter (MCU) my research investigated the role of MCU in neuronal function. In cultured central and peripheral neurons, MCU-KO significantly reduced mitochondrial Ca2+ uptake while significantly increasing the amplitude of the cytosolic Ca2+ signal amplitude. Behaviorally, MCU-KO mice show a small but significant impairment in memory tasks: fear conditioning and Barnes maze. Using a maximal electroshock seizure threshold model of in vivo seizure activity my research found that MCU-KO significantly increases the threshold for maximal seizure activity in mice and significantly reduces seizure severity. In addition to mitochondrial Ca2+ uptake, my research also investigated the mechanisms involved in mitochondrial Ca2+ extrusion. The protein SLC8B1 (SLC24A6, NCLX) is the putative transporter responsible for the Na+/Ca2+ exchange, mitochondrial calcium extrusion. Using genetic NCLX-KO mice, our research found that in neurons NCLX contributes to cytosolic Ca2+ extrusion, but does seem to directly affect mitochondrial Ca2+ extrusion.


calcium, mitochondria, mitochondrial calcium uniporter, NCLX, neuron


xiii, 177 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 160-177).


Copyright © 2018 Jacob Eugene Rysted