The human MRS2 magnesium-binding domain is a regulatory feedback switch for channel activity

Sukanthathulse Uthayabalan, Neelanjan Vishnu, Muniswamy Madesh, Peter B. Stathopulos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Mitochondrial RNA splicing 2 (MRS2) forms a magnesium (Mg2+) entry protein channel in mitochondria. Whereas MRS2 contains two transmembrane domains constituting a pore on the inner mitochondrial membrane, most of the protein resides within the matrix. Yet, the precise structural and functional role of this obtrusive amino terminal domain (NTD) in human MRS2 is unknown. Here, we show that the MRS2 NTD self-associates into a homodimer, contrasting the pentameric assembly of CorA, an orthologous bacterial channel. Mg2+ and calcium suppress lower and higher order oligomerization of MRS2 NTD, whereas cobalt has no effect on the NTD but disassembles full-length MRS2. Mutating-pinpointed residues-mediating Mg2+ binding to the NTD not only selectively decreases Mg2+-binding affinity ∼sevenfold but also abrogates Mg2+ binding-induced secondary, tertiary, and quaternary structure changes. Disruption of NTD Mg2+ binding strikingly potentiates mitochondrial Mg2+ uptake in WT and Mrs2 knockout cells. Our work exposes a mechanism for human MRS2 autoregulation by negative feedback from the NTD and identifies a novel gain of function mutant with broad applicability to future Mg2+ signaling research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalLife Science Alliance
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology (miscellaneous)
  • Plant Science
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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