Author(s): Guerini D, Coletto L, Carafoli E
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Abstract All eukaryotic cells import Ca2+ through a number of variously gated plasma membrane channels. Once inside cells, Ca2+ transmits information to a large number of (enzyme) targets. Eventually, it must be exported again, to prevent the overloading of the cytosol with Ca2+. Two systems export Ca2+ from cells: a high affinity, low capacity Ca2+-ATPase, and a lower affinity, but much larger capacity, Na+/Ca2+ exchanger. The ATPase (commonly called the Ca2+ pump) is the fine-tuner of cell Ca2+, as it functions well even if the concentration of the ion drops below the microM level. It is a large enzyme, with 10 transmembrane domains and a C-terminal cytosolic tail that contains regulatory sites, including a calmodulin-binding domain. Four distinct gene products plus a large number of splice variants have been described. Some are tissue specific, the isoform 2 being specifically expressed in the sensorial cells of the Corti organ in the inner-ear. Its genetic absence causes deafness in mice. Two different families of the Na+/Ca2+ exchanger exist, one of which, originally described in photoreceptors, transports K+ and Ca2+ in exchange for Na+. The exchanger is particularly active in excitable cells, e.g., heart, where the necessity cyclically arises to rapidly eject large amounts of Ca2+. In addition to heart, the exchanger is particularly important to neurons: the cleavage of the most important neuronal isoform (NCX3) by calpains activated by excitotoxic treatments generates Ca2+ overload and eventually cell death.
This article was published in Cell Calcium
and referenced in Journal of Bioanalysis & Biomedicine