Physiological roles of STIM1 and Orai1 homologs and CRAC channels in the genetic model organism Caenorhabditis elegans.


The nematode Caenorhabditis elegans provides numerous experimental advantages for developing an integrative molecular understanding of physiological processes and has proven to be a valuable model for characterizing Ca(2+) signaling mechanisms. This review will focus on the role of Ca(2+) release activated Ca(2+) (CRAC) channel activity in function of the worm gonad and intestine. Inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate (IP(3))-dependent oscillatory Ca(2+) signaling regulates contractile activity of the gonad and rhythmic posterior body wall muscle contraction (pBoc) required for ovulation and defecation, respectively. The C. elegans genome contains a single homolog of both STIM1 and Orai1, proteins required for CRAC channel function in mammalian and Drosophila cells. C. elegans STIM-1 and ORAI-1 are coexpressed in the worm gonad and intestine and give rise to robust CRAC channel activity when coexpressed in HEK293 cells. STIM-1 or ORAI-1 knockdown causes complete sterility demonstrating that the genes are essential components of gonad Ca(2+) signaling. Knockdown of either protein dramatically inhibits intestinal cell CRAC channel activity, but surprisingly has no effect on pBoc, intestinal Ca(2+) oscillations or intestinal ER Ca(2+) store homeostasis. CRAC channels thus do not play obligate roles in all IP(3)-dependent signaling processes in C. elegans. Instead, we suggest that CRAC channels carry out highly specialized and cell specific signaling roles and that they may function as a failsafe mechanism to prevent Ca(2+) store depletion under pathophysiological and stress conditions.


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@article{Strange2007PhysiologicalRO, title={Physiological roles of STIM1 and Orai1 homologs and CRAC channels in the genetic model organism Caenorhabditis elegans.}, author={Kevin Strange and Xiaohui Yan and Catherine Lorin-Nebel and Juan Xing}, journal={Cell calcium}, year={2007}, volume={42 2}, pages={193-203} }