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Subcell Biochem. 2007;45:337-63.

SERCA pumps and human diseases.

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INSERM, U 563, Toulouse, F-31300 France.


Sarco(endo)plasmic reticulum (SER) Ca2+ ATPases represent a highly conserved family of Ca2+ pumps which actively transport Ca2+ from the cytosol to the SER against a large concentration gradient. In humans, 3 genes (ATP2A1-3) generate multiple isoforms (SERCAla,b, SERCA2a-c, SECA3a-f) by developmental or tissue-specific alternative splicing. These pumps differ by their regulatory and kinetic properties, allowing for optimized function in the tissue where they are expressed. They play a central role in calcium signalling through regenerating SER Ca2+ stores, maintaining appropriate Ca2+ levels in this organelle and shaping cytosolic and nuclear Ca2+ variations which govern cell response. Defects in ATP2A1 encoding SERCA1 cause recessive Brody myopathy, mutations in ATP2A2 coding for SERCA2 underlie a dominant skin disease, Darier disease and its clinical variants. SERCA2a expression is reduced in heart failure in human and in mice models. Gene-targeting studies in mouse confirmed the expected function of these isoforms in some cases, but also resulted in unexpected phenotypes: SERCA1 null mutants die from respiratory failure, SERCA2 heterozygous mutant mice develop skin cancer with age and SERCA3 null mice display no diabetes. These unique phenotypes have provided invaluable information on the role of these pumps in specific tissues and species, and have improved our understanding of Ca2+ regulated processes in muscles, the heart and the skin in human and in mice. Although the understanding of the pathogenesis of these diseases is still incomplete, these recent advances hold the promise of improved knowledge on the disease processes and the identification of new targets for therapeutic interventions.

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