The nucleus is insulated from large cytosolic calcium ion changes

Nature. 1994 Feb 24;367(6465):745-50. doi: 10.1038/367745a0.


Extracellular events regulate functions in the cell nucleus by means of calcium ions acting through effector enzymes. Recently, the traditional view of the nuclear pore as freely permeable to small ions has been questioned as a result of reports that nuclear calcium can be regulated independently of cytosolic calcium. We have used confocal microscopy of fluorescent Ca2+ indicators to investigate the Ca2+ dynamics between cytosol and nucleus in neurons. We find that a previously reported amplification of Ca2+ changes in the nucleus is a measurement artefact. Small changes of cytosolic Ca2+ cause equally rapid changes in nuclear Ca2+, consistent with the free diffusion of Ca2+ through nuclear pores. In contrast, large cytosolic Ca2+ increases (above 300 nM) are attenuated in the nucleus. Our results show the nuclear envelope shapes but does not block the passage of Ca2+ signals from cytosol to nucleus.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Calcium / metabolism*
  • Cell Nucleus / physiology*
  • Cytosol / metabolism*
  • Diffusion
  • Fluorescence
  • Mice
  • Microscopy, Phase-Contrast
  • Neuroblastoma
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Nuclear Envelope / physiology
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • Calcium