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Trends Cell Biol. 2011 Apr;21(4):202-11. doi: 10.1016/j.tcb.2011.01.002. Epub 2011 Feb 1.

Evolutionary origins of STIM1 and STIM2 within ancient Ca2+ signaling systems.

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Department of Chemical and Systems Biology, Stanford University, 318 Campus Drive, Clark Building W2.1, Stanford, CA 94305-5174, USA.


Human stromal interaction molecule (STIM) proteins are parts of elaborate eukaryotic Ca(2+) signaling systems that include numerous plasma membrane (PM), endoplasmic reticulum (ER), and mitochondrial Ca(2+) transporters, channels and regulators. STIM2 and STIM1 function as Ca(2+) sensors with different sensitivities for ER Ca(2+). They translocate to ER-PM junctions and open PM Orai Ca(2+) influx channels when receptor-mediated Ca(2+) release lowers ER Ca(2+) levels. The resulting increase in cytosolic Ca(2+) leads to the activation of numerous Ca(2+) effector proteins that in turn regulate differentiation, cell contraction, secretion and other cell functions. In this review, we use an evolutionary perspective to survey molecular activation mechanisms in the Ca(2+) signaling system, with a particular focus on regulatory motifs and functions of the two STIM proteins. We discuss the presence and absence of STIM genes in different species, the order of appearance of STIM versus Orai, and the evolutionary addition of new signaling domains to STIM proteins.

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