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J Cell Sci. 2001 Nov;114(Pt 22):3979-89.

Calcium puffs are generic InsP(3)-activated elementary calcium signals and are downregulated by prolonged hormonal stimulation to inhibit cellular calcium responses.

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Laboratory of Molecular Signalling, The Babraham Institute, Babraham, Cambridge, CB2 4AT, UK.


Elementary Ca(2+) signals, such as "Ca(2+) puffs", which arise from the activation of inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate receptors, are building blocks for local and global Ca(2+) signalling. We characterized Ca(2+) puffs in six cell types that expressed differing ratios of the three inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate receptor isoforms. The amplitudes, spatial spreads and kinetics of the events were similar in each of the cell types. The resemblance of Ca(2+) puffs in these cell types suggests that they are a generic elementary Ca(2+) signal and, furthermore, that the different inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate isoforms are functionally redundant at the level of subcellular Ca(2+) signalling. Hormonal stimulation of SH-SY5Y neuroblastoma cells and HeLa cells for several hours downregulated inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate expression and concomitantly altered the properties of the Ca(2+) puffs. The amplitude and duration of Ca(2+) puffs were substantially reduced. In addition, the number of Ca(2+) puff sites active during the onset of a Ca(2+) wave declined. The consequence of the changes in Ca(2+) puff properties was that cells displayed a lower propensity to trigger regenerative Ca(2+) waves. Therefore, Ca(2+) puffs underlie inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate signalling in diverse cell types and are focal points for regulation of cellular responses.

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