Journal of Bioenergetics and Biomembranes

, Volume 36, Issue 2, pp 179-186

First online:

Glutamate Interacts with VDAC and Modulates Opening of the Mitochondrial Permeability Transition Pore

  • Dan GincelAffiliated withDepartment of Life Sciences, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev
  • , Varda Shoshan-BarmatzAffiliated withDepartment of Life Sciences, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

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The amino acid glutamate, synthesized in the mitochondria, serves multiple functions, including acting as a neurotransmitter and participating in degradative and synthetic pathways. We have previously shown that glutamate modulates the channel activity of bilayer-reconstituted voltage-dependent anion channel (VDAC). In this study, we demonstrate that glutamate also modulates the opening of the mitochondrial permeability transition pore (PTP), of which VDAC is an essential component. Glutamate inhibited PTP opening, as monitored by transient Ca2+ accumulation, mitochondrial swelling and accompanying release of cytochrome c. Exposure to L-glutamate delayed the onset of PTP opening up to 3-times longer, with an IC50 of 0.5 mM. Inhibition of PTP opening by L-glutamate is highly specific, not being mimicked by D-glutamate, L-glutamine, L-aspartate, or L-asparagine. The interaction of L-glutamate with VDAC and its inhibition of VDAC's channel activity and PTP opening suggest that glutamate may also act as an intracellular messenger in the mitochondria-mediated apoptotic pathway.

Glutamate mitochondria permeability transition pore porin VDAC