Author(s): Dolmetsch RE, Pajvani U, Fife K, Spotts JM, Greenberg ME
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Abstract Increases in the intracellular concentration of calcium ([Ca2+]i) activate various signaling pathways that lead to the expression of genes that are essential for dendritic development, neuronal survival, and synaptic plasticity. The mode of Ca2+ entry into a neuron plays a key role in determining which signaling pathways are activated and thus specifies the cellular response to Ca2+. Ca2+ influx through L-type voltage-activated channels (LTCs) is particularly effective at activating transcription factors such as CREB and MEF-2. We developed a functional knock-in technique to investigate the features of LTCs that specifically couple them to the signaling pathways that regulate gene expression. We found that an isoleucine-glutamine ("IQ") motif in the carboxyl terminus of the LTC that binds Ca2+-calmodulin (CaM) is critical for conveying the Ca2+ signal to the nucleus. Ca2+-CaM binding to the LTC was necessary for activation of the Ras/mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway, which conveys local Ca2+ signals from the mouth of the LTC to the nucleus. CaM functions as a local Ca2+ sensor at the mouth of the LTC that activates the MAPK pathway and leads to the stimulation of genes that are essential for neuronal survival and plasticity.
This article was published in Science
and referenced in Biological Systems: Open Access