A spatial-temporal model of cell activation

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  26 Feb 1988:
Vol. 239, Issue 4843, pp. 998-1005
DOI: 10.1126/science.2830669


A spatial-temporal model of calcium messenger function is proposed to account for sustained cellular responses to sustained stimuli, as well as for the persistent enhancement of cell responsiveness after removal of a stimulus, that is, cellular memory. According to this model, spatial separation of calcium function contributes to temporal separation of distinct phases of the cellular response. At different cellular sites, within successive temporal domains, the calcium messenger is generated by different mechanisms and has distinct molecular targets. In particular, prolonged cell activation is brought about by the interaction of calcium with another spatially confined messenger, diacylglycerol, to cause the association of protein kinase C with the plasma membrane. Activity of the membrane-associated protein kinase C is controlled by the rate of calcium cycling across the plasma membrane. In some instances, a single stimulus induces both protein kinase C activation and calcium cycling and thus causes prolonged activation; but in others, a close temporal association of distinct stimuli brings about cell activation via interaction of these intracellular messengers. Persistent enhancement of cell responsiveness after removal of stimuli is suggested to be due to the continued association, or anchoring, of protein kinase C to the membrane.