Role of mitochondrial membrane potential in the regulation of murine erythroleukemia cell differentiation

Robert Levenson, Ian G. Macara, Roderick L. Smith, Lewis Cantley, David Housman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Scopus citations


The level of cytoplasmic calcium ions appears to be important in the control of murine erythroleukemia (MEL) cell differentiation. Our interest in this study focuses on the relationship between the regulation of calcium concentration and differentiation. We used the fluorescent membrane probe DiOC6 to examine the relationship between MEL cell mitochondria and changes in cytoplasmic calcium levels occurring at the initiation of commitment. Fluorescence microscopy reveals the selective association of DiOC6 with MEL cell mitochondria, where an enhanced fluorescence is observed. Treatment of cells with dimethylsulfoxide (DMSO) or other inducers causes a decrease in mitochondria-associated fluorescence levels that occurs with the initiation of commitment. A decrease in DiOC6 fluorescence is caused by agents that reduce mitochondrial membrane potential, but is only slightly affected by agents that alter plasma membrane potential. Amiloride and EGTA, agents that prevent commitment and inhibit calcium uptake, also prevent the decrease in DiOC6 uptake caused by DMSO. The effect of DMSO on MEL cell mitochondria is mimicked by FCCP, a proton ionophore that dissipates mitochondrial membrane potential. FCCP also caused MEL cell mitochondria to release calcium into the cytoplasm. When MEL cells are treated with DMSO plus FCCP, commitment is initiated without the lag period observed when cells are treated with DMSO alone. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that mitochondrial transmembrane potential is important in the regulation of cytoplasmic calcium levels at the time of commitment of MEL cells to terminal differentiation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)855-863
Number of pages9
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1982

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology


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