Fundamental properties of Ca(2+) signals


  • K. Thurley
  • A. Skupin
  • R. Thul
  • M. Falcke


  • Biochimica et Biophysica Acta - General Subjects


  • Biochim Biophys Acta Gen Subj 1820 (8): 1185-1194


  • BACKGROUND: Ca(2+) is a ubiquitous and versatile second messenger that transmits information through changes of the cytosolic Ca(2+) concentration. Recent investigations changed basic ideas on the dynamic character of Ca(2+) signals and challenge traditional ideas on information transmission. SCOPE OF REVIEW: We present recent findings on key characteristics of the cytosolic Ca(2+) dynamics and theoretical concepts that explain the wide range of experimentally observed Ca(2+) signals. Further, we relate properties of the dynamical regulation of the cytosolic Ca(2+) concentration to ideas about information transmission by stochastic signals. MAJOR CONCLUSIONS: We demonstrate the importance of the hierarchal arrangement of Ca(2+) release sites on the emergence of cellular Ca(2+) spikes. Stochastic Ca(2+) signals are functionally robust and adaptive to changing environmental conditions. Fluctuations of interspike intervals (ISIs) and the moment relation derived from ISI distributions contain information on the channel cluster open probability and on pathway properties. GENERAL SIGNIFICANCE: Robust and reliable signal transduction pathways that entail Ca(2+) dynamics are essential for eukaryotic organisms. Moreover, we expect that the design of a stochastic mechanism which provides robustness and adaptivity will be found also in other biological systems. Ca(2+) dynamics demonstrate that the fluctuations of cellular signals contain information on molecular behavior. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled Biochemical, biophysical and genetic approaches to intracellular calcium signaling.