Calcium Signaling in Immune Cells

Nat Immunol. 2009 Jan;10(1):21-7. doi: 10.1038/ni.f.220.


Calcium acts as a second messenger in many cell types, including lymphocytes. Resting lymphocytes maintain a low concentration of Ca2+. However, engagement of antigen receptors induces calcium influx from the extracellular space by several routes. A chief mechanism of Ca2+ entry in lymphocytes is through store-operated calcium (SOC) channels. The identification of two important molecular components of SOC channels, CRACM1 (the pore-forming subunit) and STIM1 (the sensor of stored calcium), has allowed genetic and molecular manipulation of the SOC entry pathway. In this review, we highlight advances in the understanding of Ca2+ signaling in lymphocytes with special emphasis on SOC entry. We also discuss outstanding questions and probable future directions of the field.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigen Presentation
  • Calcium / metabolism*
  • Calcium Channels / metabolism*
  • Calcium Signaling*
  • Cell Degranulation
  • Humans
  • Lymphocyte Activation
  • Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Lymphocytes / metabolism
  • Mast Cells / physiology
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Neoplasm Proteins / metabolism*
  • ORAI1 Protein
  • Receptors, Calcium-Sensing / metabolism
  • Stromal Interaction Molecule 1
  • Thymus Gland / immunology
  • Thymus Gland / metabolism


  • Calcium Channels
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Neoplasm Proteins
  • ORAI1 Protein
  • ORAI1 protein, human
  • Receptors, Calcium-Sensing
  • STIM1 protein, human
  • Stromal Interaction Molecule 1
  • Calcium