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Yuriy Kirichok, PhD

Address600 16th Street
San Francisco CA 94158
Phone415-476-6310
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    Research Description

    Mitochondria are ubiquitous intracellular organelles responsible for diverse cellular processes including ATP production, intracellular Ca2+ signaling, aging, and programmed cell death. Given the paramount significance of mitochondria in cell physiology, it is not surprising that they have also emerged as key contributors to many pathological conditions, including diabetes, obesity and neurodegenerative diseases. However, development of effective treatment for these disorders has been hampered by our insufficient understanding of the molecular workings of the mitochondrion and how they can contribute to disease.

    Electrical potential across the inner mitochondrial membrane (IMM) generated by mitochondrial respiration is fundamental to all physiological and pathophysiological roles of mitochondria, from producing ATP to triggering cell death. Several types of mitochondrial ion channels that mediate fast ion transport across the IMM control this membrane potential and thus directly affect all aspects of mitochondrial function. Ion channels are gated by various intracellular and extracellular cues that act either directly upon the channels or indirectly via associated membrane receptors. Therefore, the ion channels of the IMM are likely to be a major avenue for control of mitochondrial functions by the cell or the entire organism. However, due to the lack of direct functional assays, mitochondrial channels and signaling pathways that affect their activity remain almost completely unexplored.

    Recently, we overcame this long-standing technical problem by demonstrating that the patch-clamp technique can be reproducibly applied to the IMM in its entirety. In our lab, we combine this powerful biophysical method with genetics and molecular biology for the comprehensive study of the mitochondrial ion channels and mechanisms of their regulation. Results from this work will uncover the fundamental physiological mechanisms that control mitochondrial functions. In the process, the work will identify mechanisms that can contribute to disease and will suggest effective therapeutic interventions based on manipulating mitochondrial ion channels.

    Current Projects

    Electrophysiological and molecular characterization of the mitochondrial Ca2+ uniporter (MCU) and mechanisms of its regulation.
    The MCU is a highly selective Ca2+ channel of the inner mitochondrial membrane responsible for mitochondrial Ca2+ accumulation during intracellular Ca2+ signaling. It is important for regulating the rate of mitochondrial ATP production, shaping intracellular Ca2+ signals, and initiating both necrotic and apoptotic cell death. The MCU also has been implicated in regulation of ROS production by mitochondria and thus likely plays an important role in aging and neurodegenerative diseases. Unfortunately molecular identity of this important channel and its mechanisms of regulation remain unknown. We hope to solve this problem and learn more about physiological and pathophysiological roles of the MCU.

    Comprehensive identification and electrophysiological characterization of mitochondrial ion channels using single-channel and whole-membrane patch clamp recordings from the native inner mitochondrial membrane.

    In addition to the MCU, the inner mitochondrial membrane contains proton, potassium and chloride channels as well as a large non-selective pore called the permeability transition pore (PTP). These ion channels, mechanisms of their regulation and their physiological functions remain largely unexplored. We plan to establish the full complement of ion channels located in IMM and prepare basis for their molecular characterization. These results will help us better understand physiological and pathophysiological roles of electrical signaling in mitochondria.


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    Mitochondrial Uncoupling and Thermogenesis in Adipose Tissues
    NIH/NIGMS R01GM107710Sep 8, 2015 - Jun 30, 2019
    Role: Principal Investigator
    Molecular Mechanisms that Control Ca2+ Signaling in Human Spermatozoa
    NIH/NICHD R01HD068914Apr 15, 2011 - Jan 31, 2016
    Role: Principal Investigator
    Molecular Biophysics of Mitochondrial Membranes: Defining Future Therapeutic Targ
    NIH DP2OD004656Sep 30, 2008 - Aug 31, 2013
    Role: Principal Investigator

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    Collapse Selected Publications
    Publications listed below are automatically derived from MEDLINE/PubMed and other sources, which might result in incorrect or missing publications. Researchers can login to make corrections and additions, or contact us for help.
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    1. Garg V, Kirichok Y. Keeping a lid on calcium uptake. Elife. 2016; 5. PMID: 27258801.
      View in: PubMed
    2. Miller MR, Mannowetz N, Iavarone AT, Safavi R, Gracheva EO, Smith JF, Hill RZ, Bautista DM, Kirichok Y, Lishko PV. Unconventional endocannabinoid signaling governs sperm activation via the sex hormone progesterone. Science. 2016 Apr 29; 352(6285):555-9. PMID: 26989199.
      View in: PubMed
    3. Lishko P, Kirichok Y. Signaling the differences between cilia. Elife. 2015; 4. PMID: 26697758.
      View in: PubMed
    4. Fieni F, Johnson DE, Hudmon A, Kirichok Y. Mitochondrial Ca2+ uniporter and CaMKII in heart. Nature. 2014 Sep 25; 513(7519):E1-2. PMID: 25254480; PMCID: PMC4476531.
    5. Smith JF, Syritsyna O, Fellous M, Serres C, Mannowetz N, Kirichok Y, Lishko PV. Disruption of the principal, progesterone-activated sperm Ca2+ channel in a CatSper2-deficient infertile patient. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2013 Apr 23; 110(17):6823-8. PMID: 23530196; PMCID: PMC3637729.
    6. Lishko P, Clapham DE, Navarro B, Kirichok Y. Sperm patch-clamp. Methods Enzymol. 2013; 525:59-83. PMID: 23522465; PMCID: PMC3909741.
    7. Fedorenko A, Lishko PV, Kirichok Y. Mechanism of fatty-acid-dependent UCP1 uncoupling in brown fat mitochondria. Cell. 2012 Oct 12; 151(2):400-13. PMID: 23063128; PMCID: PMC3782081.
    8. Fieni F, Lee SB, Jan YN, Kirichok Y. Activity of the mitochondrial calcium uniporter varies greatly between tissues. Nat Commun. 2012; 3:1317. PMID: 23271651; PMCID: PMC3818247.
    9. Lishko PV, Kirichok Y, Ren D, Navarro B, Chung JJ, Clapham DE. The control of male fertility by spermatozoan ion channels. Annu Rev Physiol. 2012; 74:453-75. PMID: 22017176; PMCID: PMC3914660.
    10. Kirichok Y, Lishko PV. Rediscovering sperm ion channels with the patch-clamp technique. Mol Hum Reprod. 2011 Aug; 17(8):478-99. PMID: 21642646; PMCID: PMC3136206.
    11. Lishko PV, Botchkina IL, Kirichok Y. Progesterone activates the principal Ca2+ channel of human sperm. Nature. 2011 Mar 17; 471(7338):387-91. PMID: 21412339.
      View in: PubMed
    12. Lishko PV, Kirichok Y. The role of Hv1 and CatSper channels in sperm activation. J Physiol. 2010 Dec 1; 588(Pt 23):4667-72. PMID: 20679352; PMCID: PMC3010136.
    13. Lishko PV, Botchkina IL, Fedorenko A, Kirichok Y. Acid extrusion from human spermatozoa is mediated by flagellar voltage-gated proton channel. Cell. 2010 Feb 5; 140(3):327-37. PMID: 20144758.
      View in: PubMed
    14. Navarro B, Kirichok Y, Chung JJ, Clapham DE. Ion channels that control fertility in mammalian spermatozoa. Int J Dev Biol. 2008; 52(5-6):607-13. PMID: 18649274; PMCID: PMC4297656.
    15. Navarro B, Kirichok Y, Clapham DE. KSper, a pH-sensitive K+ current that controls sperm membrane potential. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2007 May 1; 104(18):7688-92. PMID: 17460039; PMCID: PMC1855916.
    16. Qi H, Moran MM, Navarro B, Chong JA, Krapivinsky G, Krapivinsky L, Kirichok Y, Ramsey IS, Quill TA, Clapham DE. All four CatSper ion channel proteins are required for male fertility and sperm cell hyperactivated motility. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2007 Jan 23; 104(4):1219-23. PMID: 17227845; PMCID: PMC1770895.
    17. Kirichok Y, Navarro B, Clapham DE. Whole-cell patch-clamp measurements of spermatozoa reveal an alkaline-activated Ca2+ channel. Nature. 2006 Feb 9; 439(7077):737-40. PMID: 16467839.
      View in: PubMed
    18. Kirichok Y, Krapivinsky G, Clapham DE. The mitochondrial calcium uniporter is a highly selective ion channel. Nature. 2004 Jan 22; 427(6972):360-4. PMID: 14737170.
      View in: PubMed
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