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In electrically nonexcitable cells, Ca(2+) influx is essential for regulating a host of kinetically distinct processes involving exocytosis, enzyme control, gene regulation, cell growth and proliferation, and apoptosis. The major Ca(2+) entry pathway in these cells is the store-operated one, in which the emptying of intracellular Ca(2+) stores activates Ca(2+) influx (store-operated Ca(2+) entry, or capacitative Ca(2+) entry). Several biophysically distinct store-operated currents have been reported, but the best characterized is the Ca(2+) release-activated Ca(2+) current, I(CRAC). Although it was initially considered to function only in nonexcitable cells, growing evidence now points towards a central role for I(CRAC)-like currents in excitable cells too. In spite of intense research, the signal that relays the store Ca(2+) content to CRAC channels in the plasma membrane, as well as the molecular identity of the Ca(2+) sensor within the stores, remains elusive. Resolution of these issues would be greatly helped by the identification of the CRAC channel gene. In some systems, evidence suggests that store-operated channels might be related to TRP homologs, although no consensus has yet been reached. Better understood are mechanisms that inactivate store-operated entry and hence control the overall duration of Ca(2+) entry. Recent work has revealed a central role for mitochondria in the regulation of I(CRAC), and this is particularly prominent under physiological conditions. I(CRAC) therefore represents a dynamic interplay between endoplasmic reticulum, mitochondria, and plasma membrane. In this review, we describe the key electrophysiological features of I(CRAC) and other store-operated Ca(2+) currents and how they are regulated, and we consider recent advances that have shed insight into the molecular mechanisms involved in this ubiquitous and vital Ca(2+) entry pathway.

Original publication




Journal article


Physiol Rev

Publication Date





757 - 810


Animals, Calcium, Calcium Channels, Disease, Electric Conductivity, Electrophysiology, Humans, Receptors, Calcium-Sensing