Structural aspects of calcium-release activated calcium channel function

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Store-operated calcium (Ca2+) entry is the process by which molecules located on the endo/sarcoplasmic reticulum (ER/SR) respond to decreased luminal Ca2+ levels by signaling Ca2+ release activated Ca2+ channels (CRAC) channels to open on the plasma membrane (PM). This activation of PM CRAC channels provides a sustained cytosolic Ca2+ elevation associated with myriad physiological processes. The identities of the molecules which mediate SOCE include stromal interaction molecules (STIMs), functioning as the ER/SR luminal Ca2+ sensors, and Orai proteins, forming the PM CRAC channels. This review examines the current available high-resolution structural information on these CRAC molecular components with particular focus on the solution structures of the luminal STIM Ca2+ sensing domains, the crystal structures of cytosolic STIM fragments, a closed Orai hexameric crystal structure and a structure of an Orai1 N-terminal fragment in complex with calmodulin. The accessible structural data are discussed in terms of potential mechanisms of action and cohesiveness with functional observations.

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