Genetic calcium signaling abnormalities in the central nervous system: seizures, migraine, and autism

Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2009 Jan:1151:133-56. doi: 10.1111/j.1749-6632.2008.03572.x.


The calcium ion is one of the most versatile, ancient, and universal of biological signaling molecules, known to regulate physiological systems at every level from membrane potential and ion transporters to kinases and transcription factors. Disruptions of intracellular calcium homeostasis underlie a host of emerging diseases, the calciumopathies. Cytosolic calcium signals originate either as extracellular calcium enters through plasma membrane ion channels or from the release of an intracellular store in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) via inositol triphosphate receptor and ryanodine receptor channels. Therefore, to a large extent, calciumopathies represent a subset of the channelopathies, but include regulatory pathways and the mitochondria, the major intracellular calcium repository that dynamically participates with the ER stores in calcium signaling, thereby integrating cellular energy metabolism into these pathways, a process of emerging importance in the analysis of the neurodegenerative and neuropsychiatric diseases. Many of the calciumopathies are common complex polygenic diseases, but leads to their understanding come most prominently from rare monogenic channelopathy paradigms. Monogenic forms of common neuronal disease phenotypes-such as seizures, ataxia, and migraine-produce a constitutionally hyperexcitable tissue that is susceptible to periodic decompensations. The gene families and genetic lesions underlying familial hemiplegic migraine, FHM1/CACNA1A, FHM2/ATP1A2, and FHM3/SCN1A, and monogenic mitochondrial migraine syndromes, provide a robust platform from which genes, such as CACNA1C, which encodes the calcium channel mutated in Timothy syndrome, can be evaluated for their role in autism and bipolar disease.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Autistic Disorder / diagnosis
  • Autistic Disorder / genetics*
  • Autistic Disorder / metabolism*
  • Calcium Signaling / genetics*
  • Central Nervous System Diseases / genetics
  • Central Nervous System Diseases / metabolism
  • Central Nervous System Diseases / pathology
  • Humans
  • Migraine Disorders / diagnosis
  • Migraine Disorders / genetics*
  • Migraine Disorders / metabolism*
  • Seizures / diagnosis
  • Seizures / genetics*
  • Seizures / metabolism*