Activation of the mitochondrial permeability transition pore (PTP) clearly plays a key role in some of the most wide-spread and therapeutically challenging human diseases. Our studies have established that the PTP operates in two modes 1) transiently, whereby the PTP acts as a mitochondrial Ca2+ release channel or 2) persistently, which ultimately results in cell death and disease. Although well characterized on a functional level, we know remarkably little about the molecules that form the PTP or how it is regulated. We urgently need answers to basic questions concerning what proteins actually form the PTP channel and what modulates the opening of the PTP in vivo. As a result, our goal is to identify the molecules that contribute to the structure and regulation of the PTP in both normal and disease states. This information is critical if we are to be able to effectively identify and/or deign valuable therapeutics targeting the transition of the PTP from normal to pathological. Here, we will use biochemical and genetic tools to identify structural components of the PTP and how PTP activity can be dynamically regulated in vivo. The specific objectives of this application are based in the synergy possible through the unique combination of novel approaches available in the Forte and Bernardi laboratories. The specific objectives of this application are:
Aim 1 - Test role of OMM proteins in the regulation of PTP activity: While the PTP is primarily an IMM event, it has long been appreciated that proteins in the OMM should prominently regulate PTP activity. We will initially focus on a specific OMM protein, Tspo, whose role in PTP regulation has been strongly suggested. Our studies here will allow us to gain a deeper understanding of how cytosolic elements can impact PTP activity.
Aim 2 - Identify key structural components of the PTP: Despite our increasing appreciation of its fundamental role in normal and pathological cellular responses, the molecules that form the PTP have remained a mystery. Here, we will use information in available mitochondrial proteomes to identify proteins forming the pore of the PTP. It is our expectation that the identification of any single component forming the PTP will supply us with the missing """"""""hook"""""""", providing the opportunity to identify additional components.
Aim 3 - Mitochondrial p66ShcA and ROS activation of the PTP: It is clear that pore open-closed transitions can be regulated at many levels and, by extension;misregulation of these upstream pathways can lead to persistent, pathological activation of the PTP. The goal of this aim is to investigate the hypothesis that ROS generated through the action of p66ShcA (p66) functions upstream of the activation of the PTP in conditions of excess oxidative stress. We anticipate on the completion of this aim to have clear understanding of the role of one novel upstream activator of PTP activity. These studies will set the stage for future interrogation aimed at extending our understanding of mitochondria and PTP activity in physiological and pathological settings. Clearly, these outcomes will be fundamental to developing novel therapeutic strategies specifically targeting the pore in the many disease processes in which the PTP has been clearly implicated.

Public Health Relevance

The mitochondrial permeability transition pore has been studied for over 50 years and has been implicated, for example, in ischemia-reperfusion injury of the heart and brain, muscular dystrophy caused by collagen VI deficiency, and in the axonal damage occurring during MS among many other pathological conditions. Since little is known of the molecular composition of the PTP, our goals in this application are to use the pharmacological, biochemical and genetic tools we have established for the unbiased identification of proteins involved in the formation of the PTP and to use a variety of in vitro an in vivo tests to confirm their roles, either as core components of the pore itself, or regulators o pore activity. Since the PTP is of direct relevance to variety of human pathological conditions, we anticipate that the rigorous and careful identification of proteins forming or regulating the formation of the PTP will increase our ability to define therapies targeting these proteins as treatments for a wide variety of human diseases.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS)
Research Project (R01)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Membrane Biology and Protein Processing Study Section (MBPP)
Program Officer
Anderson, Vernon
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Oregon Health and Science University
Overall Medical
United States
Zip Code
Å ileikytÄ—, Justina; Forte, Michael (2016) Shutting down the pore: The search for small molecule inhibitors of the mitochondrial permeability transition. Biochim Biophys Acta 1857:1197-202
Carraro, Michela; Bernardi, Paolo (2016) Calcium and reactive oxygen species in regulation of the mitochondrial permeability transition and of programmed cell death in yeast. Cell Calcium 60:102-7
Bernardi, Paolo; Rasola, Andrea; Forte, Michael et al. (2015) The Mitochondrial Permeability Transition Pore: Channel Formation by F-ATP Synthase, Integration in Signal Transduction, and Role in Pathophysiology. Physiol Rev 95:1111-55
Bernardi, Paolo; Di Lisa, Fabio (2015) The mitochondrial permeability transition pore: molecular nature and role as a target in cardioprotection. J Mol Cell Cardiol 78:100-6
Bernardi, Paolo; Di Lisa, Fabio; Fogolari, Federico et al. (2015) From ATP to PTP and Back: A Dual Function for the Mitochondrial ATP Synthase. Circ Res 116:1850-62
Bernardi, Paolo; Forte, Michael (2015) Commentary: SPG7 is an essential and conserved component of the mitochondrial permeability transition pore. Front Physiol 6:320
von Stockum, Sophia; Giorgio, Valentina; Trevisan, Elena et al. (2015) F-ATPase of Drosophila melanogaster forms 53-picosiemen (53-pS) channels responsible for mitochondrial Ca2+-induced Ca2+ release. J Biol Chem 290:4537-44
Roy, Sudeshna; Å ileikytÄ—, Justina; Schiavone, Marco et al. (2015) Discovery, Synthesis, and Optimization of Diarylisoxazole-3-carboxamides as Potent Inhibitors of the Mitochondrial Permeability Transition Pore. ChemMedChem 10:1655-71
Å ileikytÄ—, Justina; Blachly-Dyson, Elizabeth; Sewell, Randall et al. (2014) Regulation of the mitochondrial permeability transition pore by the outer membrane does not involve the peripheral benzodiazepine receptor (Translocator Protein of 18 kDa (TSPO)). J Biol Chem 289:13769-81
Carraro, Michela; Giorgio, Valentina; Å ileikytÄ—, Justina et al. (2014) Channel formation by yeast F-ATP synthase and the role of dimerization in the mitochondrial permeability transition. J Biol Chem 289:15980-5

Showing the most recent 10 out of 29 publications