Coordinated calcium signalling is vital for neuronal growth cone function and axon pathfinding. Although store-operated calcium entry (SOCE) has been suggested to be an important source of calcium in growth cone navigation, the mechanisms that regulate calcium signalling, particularly the regulation of internal calcium stores within growth cones, are yet to be fully determined. Stromal Interaction Molecule 1 (STIM1) is a calcium-sensing protein localized in the endoplasmic reticulum membrane that interacts with Orai proteins in the plasma membrane to initiate SOCE and refilling of intracellular calcium stores. We hypothesize that STIM1- and Orai1/2-mediated SOCE are necessary for growth cone turning responses to extracellular guidance cues. We show that STIM1 and Orai reorganize into puncta upon store depletion and during growth cone turning with STIM1 localization biased towards the turning side (high calcium side) of the growth cone. Importantly, STIM1 knock-down perturbed growth cone turning responses to the guidance cues brain-derived neurotrophic factor and semaphorin-3a (Sema-3a), as well as abolishing Sema-3a-induced growth cone collapse. Furthermore, STIM1 knock-down abolished SOCE induced by brain-derived neurotrophic factor, but not Sema-3a. Our data suggest that STIM1 is essential for correct growth cone navigation, playing multiple roles in growth cone motility, including the activation of SOCE.
© 2012 The Authors. Journal of Neurochemistry © 2012 International Society for Neurochemistry.