Send to

Choose Destination
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1988 Jul;85(14):5051-5.

Molecular model for receptor-stimulated calcium spiking.

Author information

Department of Cell Biology, Sherman Fairchild Center, Stanford University School of Medicine, CA 94305.


Many cells exhibit periodic transient increases in cytosolic calcium levels rather than a sustained rise when stimulated by a hormone or growth factor. We propose here a molecular model that accounts for periodic calcium spiking induced by a constant stimulus. Four elements give rise to repetitive calcium transients: cooperativity and positive feedback between a pair of reciprocally coupled (crosscoupled) messengers, followed by deactivation and then by reactivation. The crosscoupled messengers in our model are inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate (InsP3) and cytosolic calcium ions. The opening of calcium channels in the endoplasmic reticulum by the binding of multiple molecules of InsP3 provides the required cooperativity. The stimulation of receptor-activated phospholipase C by released calcium ions leads to positive feedback. InsP3 is destroyed by a phosphatase, and calcium ion is pumped back into the endoplasmic reticulum. These processes generate bistability: the cytosolic calcium concentration abruptly increases from a basal level to a stimulated level at a threshold degree of activation of phospholipase C. Spiking further requires slow deactivation and subsequent reactivation. In our model, mitochondrial sequestration of calcium ion prevents the cytosolic level from increasing above several micromolar and enables the system to return to the basal state. When the endoplasmic reticulum calcium store is refilled to a critical level by the Ca2+-ATPase pump, cooperative positive feedback between the InsP3-gated channel and phospholipase C begins again to give the next calcium spike. The time required for the calcium level in the endoplasmic reticulum to reach a threshold sets the interval between spikes. The amplitude, shape, and period of calcium spikes calculated for this model are like those observed experimentally.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for HighWire Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center