Molecular aspects of calcium signalling at the crossroads of unikont and bikont eukaryote evolution--the ciliated protozoan Paramecium in focus

Cell Calcium. 2015 Mar;57(3):174-85. doi: 10.1016/j.ceca.2014.12.002. Epub 2014 Dec 10.


The ciliated protozoan, Paramecium tetraurelia has a high basic Ca(2+) leakage rate which is counteracted mainly by export through a contractile vacuole complex, based on its V-type H(+)-ATPase activity. In addition Paramecium cells dispose of P-type Ca(2+)-ATPases, i.e. a plasmamembrane and a sarcoplasmic/endoplasmic reticulum Ca(2+)-ATPase (PMCA, SERCA). Antiporter systems are to be expected, as inferred from indirect evidence. Among the best known cytosolic Ca(2+)-binding proteins, calmodulin activates Ca(2+) influx channels in the somatic cell membrane, but inactivates Ca(2+) influx channels in cilia, where it, thus, ends ciliary reversal induced by depolarization via channels in the somatic cell membrane. Centrin inactivates Ca(2+) signals after stimulation by its high capacity/low affinity binding sites, whereas its high affinity sites regulate some other functions. Cortical Ca(2+) stores (alveolar sacs) are activated during stimulated trichocyst exocytosis and thereby mediate store-operated Ca(2+) entry (SOCE). Ca(2+) release channels (CRCs) localised to alveoli and underlying SOCE are considered as Ryanodine receptor-like proteins (RyR-LPs) which are members of a CRC family with 6 subfamilies. These also encompass genuine inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate receptors (IP3Rs) and intermediates between the two channel types. All IP3R/RyR-type CRCs possess six carboxyterminal transmembrane domains (TMD), with a pore domain between TMD 5 and 6, endowed with a characteristic selectivity filter. There are reasons to assume a common ancestor molecule for such channels and diversification further on in evolution. The distinct distribution of specific CRCs in the different vesicles undergoing intracellular trafficking suggests constitutive formation of very locally restricted Ca(2+) signals during vesicle-vesicle interaction. In summary, essential steps of Ca(2+) signalling already occur at this level of evolution, including an unexpected multitude of CRCs. For dis-/similarities with other bikonts see "Conclusions".

Keywords: Ca(2+); Calcium; Channel; Ciliate; Paramecium; Protozoa.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Evolution*
  • Calcium Signaling / physiology*
  • Eukaryotic Cells / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Paramecium / metabolism*