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J Physiol. 2003 Sep 15;551(Pt 3):729-40. Epub 2003 Jul 17.

Epithelial Ca2+ entry channels: transcellular Ca2+ transport and beyond.

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Membrane Biology Program and Renal and Endocrine-Hypertension Divisions, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


The recently discovered apical calcium channels CaT1 (TRPV6) and ECaC (TRPV5) belong to a family of six members called the 'TRPV family'. Unlike the other four members which are nonselective cation channels functioning as heat or osmolarity sensors in the body, CaT1 and ECaC are remarkably calcium-selective channels which serve as apical calcium entry mechanisms in absorptive and secretory tissues. CaT1 is highly expressed in the proximal intestine, placenta and exocrine tissues, whereas ECaC expression is most prominent in the distal convoluted and connecting tubules of the kidney. CaT1 in the intestine is highly responsive to 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 and shows both fast and slow calcium-dependent feedback inhibition to prevent calcium overload. In contrast, ECaC only shows slow inactivation kinetics and appears to be mostly regulated by the calcium load in the kidney. Outside the calcium-transporting epithelia, CaT1 is highly expressed in exocrine tissues such as pancreas, prostate and salivary gland. In these tissues it probably mediates re-uptake of calcium following its release by secretory vesicles. CaT1 also contributes to store-operated calcium entry in Jurkat T-lymphocytes and prostate cancer LNCaP cells, possibly in conjunction with other cellular components which link CaT1 activity to the filling state of the calcium stores. Finally, CaT1 expression is upregulated in prostate cancer and other cancers of epithelial origin, highlighting its potential as a target for cancer therapy.

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