Cell Physiology

Calcium signaling via two-pore channels: local or global, that is the question

Michael X. Zhu, Jianjie Ma, John Parrington, Peter J. Calcraft, Antony Galione, A. Mark Evans


Recently, we identified, for the first time, two-pore channels (TPCs, TPCN for gene name) as a novel family of nicotinic acid adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NAADP)-gated, endolysosome-targeted calcium release channels. Significantly, three subtypes of TPCs have been characterized, TPC1-3, with each being targeted to discrete acidic calcium stores, namely lysosomes (TPC2) and endosomes (TPC1 and TPC3). That TPCs act as NAADP-gated calcium release channels is clear, given that NAADP binds to high- and low-affinity sites associated with TPC2 and thereby induces calcium release and homologous desensitization, as observed in the case of endogenous NAADP receptors. Moreover, NAADP-evoked calcium signals via TPC2 are ablated by short hairpin RNA knockdown of TPC2 and by depletion of acidic calcium stores with bafilomycin. Importantly, however, NAADP-evoked calcium signals were biphasic in nature, with an initial phase of calcium release from lysosomes via TPC2, being subsequently amplified by calcium-induced calcium release (CICR) from the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). In marked contrast, calcium release via endosome-targeted TPC1 induced only spatially restricted calcium signals that were not amplified by CICR from the ER. These findings provide new insights into the mechanisms that cells may utilize to “filter” calcium signals via junctional complexes to determine whether a given signal remains local or is converted into a propagating global signal. Essentially, endosomes and lysosomes represent vesicular calcium stores, quite unlike the ER network, and TPCs do not themselves support CICR or, therefore, propagating regenerative calcium waves. Thus “quantal” vesicular calcium release via TPCs must subsequently recruit inositol 1,4,5-trisphoshpate receptors and/or ryanodine receptors on the ER by CICR to evoke a propagating calcium wave. This may call for a revision of current views on the mechanisms of intracellular calcium signaling. The purpose of this review is, therefore, to provide an appropriate framework for future studies in this area.

  • two-pore segment channel
  • nicotinic acid adenine dinucleotide phosphate
  • sarco (endo)plasmic reticulum
  • lysosome
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