Send to

Choose Destination
Front Cell Neurosci. 2015 Feb 20;9:48. doi: 10.3389/fncel.2015.00048. eCollection 2015.

Buffer mobility and the regulation of neuronal calcium domains.

Author information

Experimental Neurophysiology, Department of Neurosurgery, University Clinic Bonn Bonn, Germany.


The diffusion of calcium inside neurons is determined in part by the intracellular calcium binding species that rapidly bind to free calcium ions upon entry. It has long been known that some portion of a neuron's intracellular calcium binding capacity must be fixed or poorly mobile, as calcium diffusion is strongly slowed in the intracellular environment relative to diffusion in cytosolic extract. The working assumption was that these immobile calcium binding sites are provided by structural proteins bound to the cytoskeleton or intracellular membranes and may thereby be relatively similar in composition and capacity across different cell types. However, recent evidence suggests that the immobile buffering capacity can vary greatly between cell types and that some mobile calcium binding proteins may alter their mobility upon binding calcium, thus blurring the line between mobile and immobile. The ways in which immobile buffering capacity might be relevant to different calcium domains within neurons has been explored primarily through modeling. In certain regimes, the presence of immobile buffers and the interaction between mobile and immobile buffers have been shown to result in complex spatiotemporal patterns of free calcium. In total, these experimental and modeling findings call for a more nuanced consideration of the local intracellular calcium microenvironment. In this review we focus on the different amounts, affinities, and mobilities of immobile calcium binding species; propose a new conceptual category of physically diffusible but functionally immobile buffers; and discuss how these buffers might interact with mobile calcium binding partners to generate characteristic calcium domains.


calcium buffer; calcium domains; diffusion coefficient; immobile; mobile

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Frontiers Media SA Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center