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EMBO J. 1997 Dec 1;16(23):7166-73.

Nuclear calcium signalling by individual cytoplasmic calcium puffs.

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Laboratory of Molecular Signalling, The Babraham Institute, Babraham, Cambridge CB2 4AT, UK.


It is known that the nucleoplasmic ionised calcium concentration (Can) controls nuclear functions such as transcription, although the source and nature of the signals which modulate Can are unclear. Using confocal imaging, we investigated the subcellular origin of Can signals in Fluo-3-loaded HeLa cells. Our data indicate that all signals which increased Can were of cytoplasmic origin. Can was elevated during the propagation of global Ca waves within cells. More strikingly, we found that individual cytoplasmic elementary release events e.g. Ca puffs, evoked by physiological levels of stimulation, caused transient Can increases. Significantly, >70% of all Ca puffs originated within a 2-3 micron perinuclear zone and propagated anisotropically across the entire nucleus. Due to the relatively slow relaxation of Can transients compared with those in the cytoplasm, repetitive perinuclear Ca puffs were integrated into a 'staircase' of increasing Can. Due to the effective diffusion of Ca in the nucleoplasm, the nucleus served as a 'Ca tunnel', distributing Ca to parts of the cytosol which were otherwise not within the cytoplasmic diffusion radii of Ca puffs. Given the close proximity of the majority of puff sites to the nucleus, it seems that the elementary Ca release system is designed to facilitate nuclear Ca signalling. Consequently, Ca-dependent regulation of nuclear function must be considered at the microscopic elementary level.

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