Research Papers: Gerotarget (Focus on Aging):

Pharynx mitochondrial [Ca2+] dynamics in live C. elegans worms during aging

Pilar Alvarez-Illera, Paloma García-Casas, Jessica Arias-del-Val, Rosalba I. Fonteriz, Javier Alvarez and Mayte Montero _

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Oncotarget. 2017; 8:55889-55900. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.18600

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Pilar Alvarez-Illera1, Paloma García-Casas1, Jessica Arias-del-Val1, Rosalba I. Fonteriz1, Javier Alvarez1 and Mayte Montero1

1 Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and Physiology, Institute of Biology and Molecular Genetics, Faculty of Medicine, University of Valladolid and CSIC, Valladolid, Spain

Correspondence to:

Mayte Montero, email:

Keywords: calcium, pharynx, C. elegans, aging, mitochondria, Gerotarget

Received: April 04, 2017 Accepted: June 12, 2017 Published: June 22, 2017


Progressive decline in mitochondrial function is generally considered one of the hallmarks of aging. We have expressed a Ca2+ sensor in the mitochondrial matrix of C. elegans pharynx cells and we have measured for the first time mitochondrial [Ca2+] ([Ca2+]M) dynamics in the pharynx of live C. elegans worms during aging. Our results show that worms stimulated with serotonin display a pharynx [Ca2+]M oscillatory kinetics that includes both high frequency oscillations (up to about 1Hz) and very prolonged “square-wave” [Ca2+]M increases, indicative of energy depletion of the pharynx cells. Mitochondrial [Ca2+] is therefore able to follow “beat-to-beat” the fast oscillations of cytosolic [Ca2+]. The fast [Ca2+]M oscillations kept steady frequency values during the whole worm life, from 2 to 12 days old, but the height and width of the peaks was progressively reduced. [Ca2+]M oscillations were also present with similar kinetics in respiratory chain complex I nuo-6 mutant worms, although with smaller height and frequency than in the controls, and larger width. In summary, Ca2+ fluxes in and out of the mitochondria are relatively well preserved during the C. elegans life, but there is a clear progressive decrease in their magnitude during aging. Moreover, mitochondrial Ca2+ fluxes were smaller in nuo-6 mutants with respect to the controls at every age and decreased similarly during aging.

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