Orai1, a critical component of store-operated Ca2+ entry, is functionally associated with Na+/Ca2+ exchanger and plasma membrane Ca2+ pump in proliferating human arterial myocytes

Am J Physiol Cell Physiol. 2009 Nov;297(5):C1103-12. doi: 10.1152/ajpcell.00283.2009. Epub 2009 Aug 12.


Ca(2+) entry through store-operated channels (SOCs) in the plasma membrane plays an important role in regulation of vascular smooth muscle contraction, tone, and cell proliferation. The C-type transient receptor potential (TRPC) channels have been proposed as major candidates for SOCs in vascular smooth muscle. Recently, two families of transmembrane proteins, Orai [also known as Ca(2+) release-activated Ca(2+) channel modulator (CRACM)] and stromal interacting molecule 1 (STIM1), were shown to be essential for the activation of SOCs mainly in nonexcitable cells. Here, using small interfering RNA, we show that Orai1 plays an essential role in activating store-operated Ca(2+) entry (SOCE) in primary cultured proliferating human aortic smooth muscle cells (hASMCs), whereas Orai2 and Orai3 do not contribute to SOCE. Knockdown of Orai1 protein expression significantly attenuated SOCE. Moreover, inhibition of Orai1 downregulated expression of Na(+)/Ca(2+) exchanger type 1 (NCX1) and plasma membrane Ca(2+) pump isoform 1 (PMCA1). The rate of cytosolic free Ca(2+) concentration decay after Ca(2+) transients in Ca(2+)-free medium was also greatly decreased under these conditions. This reduction of Ca(2+) extrusion, presumably via NCX1 and PMCA1, may be a compensation for the reduced SOCE. Immunocytochemical observations indicate that Orai1 and NCX1 are clustered in plasma membrane microdomains. Cell proliferation was attenuated in hASMCs with disrupted Orai1 expression and reduced SOCE. Thus Orai1 appears to be a critical component of SOCE in proliferating vascular smooth muscle cells, and may therefore be a key player during vascular growth and remodeling.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aorta / metabolism
  • Blotting, Western
  • Calcium / metabolism*
  • Calcium Channels / genetics
  • Calcium Channels / metabolism*
  • Calcium Signaling / physiology
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Down-Regulation
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Gene Expression
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Muscle, Smooth, Vascular / metabolism
  • Myocytes, Smooth Muscle / metabolism*
  • ORAI1 Protein
  • Plasma Membrane Calcium-Transporting ATPases / genetics
  • Plasma Membrane Calcium-Transporting ATPases / metabolism*
  • RNA, Small Interfering
  • Sodium-Calcium Exchanger / genetics
  • Sodium-Calcium Exchanger / metabolism*


  • ATP2B1 protein, human
  • Calcium Channels
  • ORAI1 Protein
  • ORAI1 protein, human
  • RNA, Small Interfering
  • Sodium-Calcium Exchanger
  • sodium-calcium exchanger 1
  • Plasma Membrane Calcium-Transporting ATPases
  • Calcium