The mechanisms of calcium homeostasis and signalling in the lens

Rhodes, Jeremy D. and Sanderson, Julie (2009) The mechanisms of calcium homeostasis and signalling in the lens. Experimental Eye Research, 88 (2). pp. 226-234. ISSN 1096-0007

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Excessive Ca2+ can be detrimental to cells and raised levels of Ca2+ in human lenses with cortical cataract have been found to play a major role in the opacification process. Ca2+ homeostasis is therefore, recognised as having fundamental importance in lens pathophysiology. Furthermore, Ca2+ plays a central role as a second messenger in cell signalling and mechanisms have evolved which give cells exquisite control over intracellular Ca2+ ([Ca2+]i) via an array of specialised regulatory and signalling proteins. In this review we discuss these mechanisms as they apply to the lens. Ca2+ levels in human aqueous humour are approximately 1 mM and there is a large, 10,000 fold, inwardly directed gradient across the plasma membrane. In the face of such a large gradient highly efficient mechanisms are needed to maintain low [Ca2+]i. The Na+/Ca2+ exchanger (NCX) and plasma membrane Ca2+-ATPase (PMCA) actively remove Ca2+ from the cells, whereas the sarco(endo)plasmic reticulum Ca2+-ATPase (SERCA) sequesters Ca2+ in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) Ca2+ store. In lens epithelial cells the dominant role is played by the ATPases, whilst in the fibre cells NCX activity appears to be more important. Usually, [Ca2+]i can be increased in a number of ways. Ca2+ influx through the plasma membrane, for example, is mediated by an array of channels with evidence in the lens for the presence of voltage-operated Ca2+ channels (VOCCs), receptor-operated Ca2+ channels (ROCCs) and channels mediating store-operated Ca2+ entry (SOCE). Ca2+ signalling is initiated via activation of G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) and receptor tyrosine kinases (RTK) of which the lens expresses a surprisingly diverse array responding to various neurotransmitters, hormones, growth factors, autocoids and proteases. Downstream of plasma membrane receptors are IP3-gated channels (IP3Rs) and ryanodine receptors (RYRs) located in the ER, which when activated cause a rapid increase in [Ca2+]i and these have also been identified in the lens. Through an appreciation of the diversity and complexity of the mechanisms involved in Ca2+ homeostasis in normal lens cells we move closer to an understanding of the mechanisms which mediate pathological Ca2+ overload as occurs in the process of cataract formation.

Item Type: Article
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Science > School of Biological Sciences
Faculty of Science > School of Pharmacy
UEA Research Groups: Faculty of Science > Research Groups > Molecular and Tissue Pharmacology
Faculty of Science > Research Groups > Pharmaceutical Cell Biology (former - to 2017)
Depositing User: Rachel Smith
Date Deposited: 17 Mar 2011 13:49
Last Modified: 02 Nov 2023 02:06
DOI: 10.1016/j.exer.2008.10.025

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