Calcium Channel Diversity: Multiple Roles of Calcium Channel Subunits

Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2009 Jun;19(3):237-44. doi: 10.1016/j.conb.2009.06.006. Epub 2009 Jun 24.


Until recently we held the simple view that voltage-gated calcium channels consisted of an alpha1 subunit, usually associated with auxiliary beta subunits and alpha(2)delta subunits and that skeletal muscle calcium channels were also associated with a gamma subunit. However, as discussed here, there is now evidence that the auxiliary subunits may also perform other roles unrelated to voltage-gated calcium entry. In the past students were taught the simplistic view that second messenger signaling to voltage-gated calcium channels involved mainly phosphorylation of L-type calcium channels, Ca(2+)-dependent inactivation via calmodulin, and direct G-protein-mediated inhibition of the neuronal N and P/Q channels. However, it is now clear that there are many other means of modulating calcium channel activity, including receptor-mediated internalization, proteolytic cleavage, phosphorylation of beta subunits, and interaction of calcium channels with other proteins, including enzymes masquerading as scaffold proteins.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Calcium Channels / genetics
  • Calcium Channels / metabolism*
  • Calcium Channels, L-Type / genetics
  • Calcium Channels, L-Type / metabolism
  • Models, Neurological
  • Neurons / metabolism


  • Calcium Channels
  • Calcium Channels, L-Type
  • L-type calcium channel alpha(1C)