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J Cell Biol. 2000 Sep 18;150(6):1435-44.

Single channel properties and regulated expression of Ca(2+) release-activated Ca(2+) (CRAC) channels in human T cells.

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  • 1Department of Physiology and Biophysics, University of California Irvine, Irvine, California 92697-4561, USA.


Although the crucial role of Ca(2+) influx in lymphocyte activation has been well documented, little is known about the properties or expression levels of Ca(2+) channels in normal human T lymphocytes. The use of Na(+) as the permeant ion in divalent-free solution permitted Ca(2+) release-activated Ca(2+) (CRAC) channel activation, kinetic properties, and functional expression levels to be investigated with single channel resolution in resting and phytohemagglutinin (PHA)-activated human T cells. Passive Ca(2+) store depletion resulted in the opening of 41-pS CRAC channels characterized by high open probabilities, voltage-dependent block by extracellular Ca(2+) in the micromolar range, selective Ca(2+) permeation in the millimolar range, and inactivation that depended upon intracellular Mg(2+) ions. The number of CRAC channels per cell increased greatly from approximately 15 in resting T cells to approximately 140 in activated T cells. Treatment with the phorbol ester PMA also increased CRAC channel expression to approximately 60 channels per cell, whereas the immunosuppressive drug cyclosporin A (1 microM) suppressed the PHA-induced increase in functional channel expression. Capacitative Ca(2+) influx induced by thapsigargin was also significantly enhanced in activated T cells. We conclude that a surprisingly low number of CRAC channels are sufficient to mediate Ca(2+) influx in human resting T cells, and that the expression of CRAC channels increases approximately 10-fold during activation, resulting in enhanced Ca(2+) signaling.

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