Sequential ionic and conformational signaling by calcium channels drives neuronal gene expression.
Voltage-gated CaV1.2 channels (L-type calcium channel α1C subunits) are critical mediators of transcription-dependent neural plasticity. Whether these channels signal via the influx of calcium ion (Ca(2+)), voltage-dependent conformational change (VΔC), or a combination of the two has thus far been equivocal. We fused CaV1.2 to a ligand-gated Ca(2+)-permeable channel, enabling independent control of localized Ca(2+) and VΔC signals. This revealed an unexpected dual requirement: Ca(2+) must first mobilize actin-bound Ca(2+)/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II, freeing it for subsequent VΔC-mediated accumulation. Neither signal alone sufficed to activate transcription. Signal order was crucial: Efficiency peaked when Ca(2+) preceded VΔC by 10 to 20 seconds. CaV1.2 VΔC synergistically augmented signaling by N-methyl-d-aspartate receptors. Furthermore, VΔC mistuning correlated with autistic symptoms in Timothy syndrome. Thus, nonionic VΔC signaling is vital to the function of CaV1.2 in synaptic and neuropsychiatric processes.
Li, B; Tadross, MR; Tsien, RW
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