Signal Transduction

Piping Calcium Around

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Science  26 Jul 2013:
Vol. 341, Issue 6144, pp. 321
DOI: 10.1126/science.341.6144.321-b

Understanding the dynamic interactions of the components of signaling networks that control cell function is a central challenge for systems biology. Bandara et al. have adapted a strategy from engineers to get a better understanding of the controllers of free calcium concentrations in the cytoplasm and the endoplasmic reticulum; active and passive ion channels, pumps, and other regulatory proteins adjust the calcium levels in these intracellular compartments. Modeling such a system is confounded by incomplete characterization of the various components and variations in the responses of single cells in a population. The authors thus characterized the system with ordinary differential equation models built from detailed time-course measurements from large numbers of individual cells. This allowed them to extract estimates of key parameters and identify those most important to the cellular response. The results revealed the role of presenilin—a protein linked to Alzheimer's disease—in calcium handling and defined a feedback loop that controls the extrusion of calcium.

Sci. Signal. 6, ra56 (2013).

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