Requirement of Voltage-Gated Calcium Channel ß4 Subunit for T Lymphocyte Functions

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Science  07 Jan 2005:
Vol. 307, Issue 5706, pp. 117-121
DOI: 10.1126/science.1100582

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Calcium is known to play vital roles in diverse physiological processes, and it is known that voltage-gated calcium channels (Cav) mediate calcium influx in excitable cells. However, no consensus exists on the molecular identity of the calcium channels present in nonexcitable cells such as T lymphocytes. Here, we demonstrate that T lymphocytes express both regulatory β4 and poreforming Cav1 α1 subunits of Cav channels. Cav β4-mutant T lymphocytes fail to acquire normal functions and display impairment in the calcium response, activation of the transcription factor NFAT, and cytokine production. Although Cav1 channels of lymphocytes retain their voltage dependency, T cell receptor stimulation dramatically increases channel opening, providing a new mechanism for calcium entry in lymphocytes.

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