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Biological Research

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PETERSEN, OLE H.. Calcium signal compartmentalization. Biol. Res. [online]. 2002, vol.35, n.2, pp.177-182. ISSN 0716-9760.

Cytosolic calcium signals are produced by suddenly increasing the concentration of free calcium ions (Ca2+). This can occur by opening channels permeable to Ca2+ either in the surface cell membrane or in the membranes of intracellular organelles containing high Ca2+ concentrations. Ca2+ signals can control several different processes, even in the same cell. In pancreatic acinar cells, for example, Ca2+ signals do not only control the normal secretion of digestive enzymes, but can also activate autodigestion and programmed cell death. Recent technical advances have shown that different patterns of Ca2+ signals can be created, in space and time, which allow specific cellular responses to be elicited. The mechanisms responsible for Ca2+ signal compartmentalization are now largely known and will be described on the basis of recent studies of Ca2+ transport pathways and their regulation in pancreatic acinar cells. It turns out that the Ca2+ handling as well as the structural characteristics of the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and the mitochondria are of particular importance. Using a variety of Ca2+-sensitive fluorescent probes placed in different sub-cellular compartments in combination with local uncaging of caged Ca2+, many new insights into Ca2+ signal generation, compartmentalization and termination have recently been obtained

Keywords : Calcium signals; Ca2+ release channels; Ca2+ pumps; endoplasmic reticulum; mitochondria; pancreatic acinar cell; pancreatitis, secretion; apoptosis.

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