Administration of methoxamine (10 microM, 2 min) to perfused rat hearts increased the rate at which subsequently isolated mitochondria accumulated Ca2+. Methoxamine did not change significantly the development of delta phi with time or the basal rates of Ca2+ flux on inhibition of the uniporter with Ruthenium Red. With 200 microM-Pi, the rates of Ca2+ uptake at constant delta phi were unaffected by the small variations in endogenous [Pi] between mitochondrial preparations, and were also unaffected by changes in internal Ca2+ over the approximate range 8-43 nmol of Ca2+/mg. At low internal Ca2+ (about 8 nmol/mg of protein) the rates of Ca2+ uptake at constant delta phi were unaffected by addition of 200 microM-Pi. Under these conditions, the uniporter activity and the uniporter conductance were increased by 38-40% by methoxamine pretreatment. The endogenous Ca2+ content of mitochondria from control heart was about 1.8 nmol of Ca2+/mg of protein. Perfusion with agonist increased the Ca2+ content as follows: 10 microM-methoxamine (2 min), 48%; 1 microM-isoprenaline (2 min), 100%; 1 microM-adrenaline (2 min), 140%. The implications of the data for the adrenergic control of oxidative metabolism by intramitochondrial Ca2+ is discussed.

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