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Mol Cells. 2013 Mar;35(3):182-94. doi: 10.1007/s10059-013-0073-2. Epub 2013 Mar 11.

Orai1-NFAT signalling pathway triggered by T cell receptor stimulation.

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Department of Physiology, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA.


T cell receptor (TCR) stimulation plays a crucial role in development, homeostasis, proliferation, cell death, cytokine production, and differentiation of T cells. Thus, in depth understanding of TCR signalling is crucial for development of therapy targeting inflammatory diseases, improvement of vaccination efficiency, and cancer therapy utilizing T cell-based strategies. TCR activation turns on various signalling pathways, one of the important one being the Ca(2+)-calcineurin-nuclear factor of activated T cells (NFAT) signalling pathway. Stimulation of TCRs triggers depletion of intracellular Ca(2+) store and in turn, initiates store-operated Ca(2+) entry (SOCE), one of the major mechanisms to raise the intracellular Ca(2+) concentrations in T cells. Ca(2+)-release-activated-Ca(2+) (CRAC) channels are a prototype of store-operated Ca(2+) (SOC) channels in immune cells that are very well characterized. Recent identification of STIM1 as the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) Ca(2+) sensor and Orai1 as the pore subunit has dramatically advanced the understanding of CRAC channels and provides a molecular tool to investigate the physiological outcomes of Ca(2+) signalling during immune responses. In this review, we focus on our current understanding of CRAC channel activation, regulation, and downstream calcineurin-NFAT signaling pathway.

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