Research Article

Signaling to the Nucleus by an L-type Calcium Channel-Calmodulin Complex Through the MAP Kinase Pathway

Science  12 Oct 2001:
Vol. 294, Issue 5541, pp. 333-339
DOI: 10.1126/science.1063395

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Abstract

Increases in the intracellular concentration of calcium ([Ca2+]i) activate various signaling pathways that lead to the expression of genes that are essential for dendritic development, neuronal survival, and synaptic plasticity. The mode of Ca2+ entry into a neuron plays a key role in determining which signaling pathways are activated and thus specifies the cellular response to Ca2+. Ca2+ influx through L-type voltage-activated channels (LTCs) is particularly effective at activating transcription factors such as CREB and MEF-2. We developed a functional knock-in technique to investigate the features of LTCs that specifically couple them to the signaling pathways that regulate gene expression. We found that an isoleucine-glutamine (“IQ”) motif in the carboxyl terminus of the LTC that binds Ca2+-calmodulin (CaM) is critical for conveying the Ca2+ signal to the nucleus. Ca2+-CaM binding to the LTC was necessary for activation of the Ras/mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway, which conveys local Ca2+ signals from the mouth of the LTC to the nucleus. CaM functions as a local Ca2+ sensor at the mouth of the LTC that activates the MAPK pathway and leads to the stimulation of genes that are essential for neuronal survival and plasticity.

  • * To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: michael.greenberg{at}tch.harvard.edu

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