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Cell Calcium. 1999 Apr;25(4):277-90.

Sarco/endoplasmic reticulum Ca2+ (SERCA)-pumps: link to heart beats and calcium waves.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, McMaster University, Ontario, Canada.


Mobilization of endoplasmic reticulum Ca2+ is pivotal to the ability of a cell to send or respond to stimuli. Ca(2+)-Mg(2+)-ATPases, termed SERCA pumps, sequester Ca2+ into the sarco/endoplasmic reticulum. There are several SERCA protein isoforms encoded by three genes. This paper summarizes the structure, function, tissue and subcellular distribution, and regulation of various SERCA isoforms. Then it attempts to link divergence in the signal transduction processes of cells to the types and levels of SERCA proteins they express and to how the cells regulate their SERCA pump activity. The paper examines possible linkages between SERCA pumps and receptor-activated Ca2+ entry, SERCA isoform localization and Ca(2+)-waves, and the role of SERCA pumps in nuclear Ca2+ in cell proliferation and apoptosis. Then it uses available information on cardiac function and chronic stimulation of the fast-twitch muscle to answer a series of basic questions on the regulation of SERCA activity and expression and their linkage to signal transduction. Finally, it discusses the possibility that neurons exhibit complex Ca(2+)-waves whose interactions have the potential to explain the operational basis of neural networks. A series of unanswered questions emerge based on this synthesis, including the unsettling issue of whether all the isoforms are needed to achieve the divergence in signal transduction or if there is a degree of redundancy in the system.

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