Local calcium signaling in neurons

Neuron. 2003 Oct 9;40(2):331-46. doi: 10.1016/s0896-6273(03)00639-1.


Transient rises in the cytoplasmic concentration of calcium ions serve as second messenger signals that control many neuronal functions. Selective triggering of these functions is achieved through spatial localization of calcium signals. Several qualitatively different forms of local calcium signaling can be distinguished by the location of open calcium channels as well as by the distance between these channels and the calcium binding proteins that serve as the molecular targets of calcium action. Local calcium signaling is especially prominent at presynaptic active zones and postsynaptic densities, structures that are distinguished by highly organized macromolecular arrays that yield precise spatial arrangements of calcium signaling proteins. Similar forms of local calcium signaling may be employed throughout the nervous system, though much remains to be learned about the molecular underpinnings of these events.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Calcium Signaling / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Synapses / physiology