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Mol Neurobiol. 2002 Aug;26(1):21-44.

Functional diversity in neuronal voltage-gated calcium channels by alternative splicing of Ca(v)alpha1.

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Department of Neuroscience, Brown University, Providence, RI 02912, USA.


Alternative splicing is a critical mechanism used extensively in the mammalian nervous system to increase the level of diversity that can be achieved by a set of genes. This review focuses on recent studies of voltage-gated calcium (Ca) channel Ca(v)alpha1 subunit splice isoforms in neurons. Voltage-gated Ca channels couple changes in neuronal activity to rapid changes in intracellular Ca levels that in turn regulate an astounding range of cellular processes. Only ten genes have been identified that encode Ca(v)alpha1 subunits, an insufficient number to account for the level of functional diversity among voltage-gated Ca channels. The consequences of regulated alternative splicing among the genes that comprise voltage-gated Ca channels permits specialization of channel function, optimizing Ca signaling in different regions of the brain and in different cellular compartments. Although the full extent of alternative splicing is not yet known for any of the major subtypes of voltage-gated Ca channels, it is already clear that it adds a rich layer of structural and functional diversity".

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