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J Biol Chem. 2006 Aug 25;281(34):24979-90. Epub 2006 Jun 28.

Large store-operated calcium selective currents due to co-expression of Orai1 or Orai2 with the intracellular calcium sensor, Stim1.

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Laboratory of Signal Transduction, NIEHS, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina 27709, USA.


The molecular nature of store-operated Ca(2+)-selective channels has remained an enigma, due largely to the continued inability to convincingly demonstrate Ca(2+)-selective store-operated currents resulting from exogenous expression of known genes. Recent findings have implicated two proteins, Stim1 and Orai1, as having essential roles in store-operated Ca(2+) entry across the plasma membrane. However, transient overexpression of these proteins on their own results in little or no increase in store-operated entry. Here we demonstrate dramatic synergism between these two mediators; co-transfection of HEK293 cells with Stim1 and Orai1 results in an approximate 20-fold increase in store-operated Ca(2+) entry and Ca(2+)-selective current. This demonstrates that these two proteins are limiting for both the signaling and permeation mechanisms for Ca(2+)-selective store-operated Ca(2+) entry. There are three mammalian homologs of Orai1, and in expression experiments they all produced or augmented store-operated Ca(2+) entry with efficacies in the order Orai1 > Orai2 > Orai3. Stim1 apparently initiates the signaling process by acting as a Ca(2+) sensor in the endoplasmic reticulum. This results in rearrangement of Stim1 within the cell and migration toward the plasma membrane to regulate in some manner Orai1 located in the plasma membrane. However, we demonstrate that Stim1 does not incorporate in the surface membrane, and thus likely regulates or interacts with Orai1 at sites of close apposition between the plasma membrane and an intracellular Stim1-containing organelle.

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