Orai-STIM-mediated Ca2+ release from secretory granules revealed by a targeted Ca2+ and pH probe

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2012 Dec 18;109(51):E3539-48. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1218247109. Epub 2012 Nov 26.


Secretory granules (SGs) sequester significant calcium. Understanding roles for this calcium and potential mechanisms of release is hampered by the difficulty of measuring SG calcium directly in living cells. We adapted the Förster resonance energy transfer-based D1-endoplasmic reticulum (ER) probe to develop a unique probe (D1-SG) to measure calcium and pH in secretory granules. It significantly localizes to SGs and reports resting free Ca(2+) of 69 ± 15 μM and a pH of 5.8. Application of extracellular ATP to activate P2Y receptors resulted in a slow monotonic decrease in SG Ca(2+) temporally correlated with the occurrence of store-operated calcium entry (SOCE). Further investigation revealed a unique receptor-mediated mechanism of calcium release from SGs that involves SG store-operated Orai channels activated by their regulator stromal interaction molecule 1 (STIM1) on the ER. SG Ca(2+) release is completely antagonized by a SOCE antagonist, by switching to Ca(2+)-free medium, and by overexpression of a dominant-negative Orai1(E106A). Overexpression of the CRAC activation domain (CAD) of STIM1 resulted in a decrease of resting SG Ca(2+) by ∼75% and completely abolished the ATP-mediated release of Ca(2+) from SGs. Overexpression of a dominant-negative CAD construct(CAD-A376K) induced no significant changes in SG Ca(2+). Colocalization analysis suggests that, like the plasma membrane, SG membranes also possess Orai1 channels and that during SG Ca(2+) release, colocalization between SGs and STIM1 increases. We propose Orai channel opening on SG membranes as a potential mode of calcium release from SGs that may serve to raise local cytoplasmic calcium concentrations and aid in refilling intracellular calcium stores of the ER and exocytosis.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Calcium / chemistry
  • Calcium / metabolism*
  • Calcium Channels / physiology*
  • Calcium Signaling / physiology
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Cytoplasm / metabolism
  • Endoplasmic Reticulum / metabolism
  • Exocytosis
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Membrane Proteins / physiology*
  • Models, Biological
  • Neoplasm Proteins / physiology*
  • ORAI1 Protein
  • Photochemistry / methods
  • Secretory Vesicles / metabolism*
  • Stromal Interaction Molecule 1


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