Extracellular Ca2+-sensing receptors--an overview

Cell Calcium. 2004 Mar;35(3):183-96. doi: 10.1016/j.ceca.2003.10.012.


Extracellular Ca2+-sensing receptors (CaRs) are the molecular basis by which specialized cells detect and respond to changes in the extracellular [Ca2+] ([Ca2+]o). CaRs belong to the family C of G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs). Activation of CaRs triggers signaling pathways that modify numerous cell functions. Multiple ligands regulate the activation of CaRs including multivalent cations, L-amino acids, and changes in ionic strength and pH. CaRs in parathyroid cells play a central role in systemic Ca2+ homeostasis in terrestrial tetrapods. Mutations of the CaR gene in humans cause diseases in which serum and urine [Ca2+] and parathyroid hormone (PTH) levels are altered. CaR homologues are also expressed in organs critical to Ca2+ transport in ancient and modern fish, suggesting that similar receptors may have long been involved in Ca2+ homeostasis in lower vertebrates before parathyroid glands developed in terrestrial vertebrates. CaR mRNA and protein are also expressed in tissues not directly involved in Ca2+ homeostasis. This implies that there may be other biological roles for CaRs. Studies of CaR-knockout mice confirm the importance of CaRs in the parathyroid gland and kidney. The functions of CaRs in tissues other than kidney and parathyroid gland, however, remain to be elucidated.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Calcium / metabolism*
  • Cations / chemistry
  • Cations / metabolism
  • Extracellular Space / metabolism
  • Homeostasis / genetics
  • Homeostasis / physiology
  • Humans
  • Ligands
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Models, Biological
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Phylogeny
  • Receptors, Calcium-Sensing / agonists
  • Receptors, Calcium-Sensing / genetics
  • Receptors, Calcium-Sensing / physiology*
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / genetics
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / physiology
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid


  • Cations
  • Ligands
  • Receptors, Calcium-Sensing
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled
  • Calcium