Over the past 15 years or so, numerous studies have sought to characterise how nuclear calcium (Ca2+) signals are generated and reversed, and to understand how events that occur in the nucleoplasm influence cellular Ca2+ activity, and vice versa. In this Commentary, we describe mechanisms of nuclear Ca2+ signalling and discuss what is known about the origin and physiological significance of nuclear Ca2+ transients. In particular, we focus on the idea that the nucleus has an autonomous Ca2+ signalling system that can generate its own Ca2+ transients that modulate processes such as gene transcription. We also discuss the role of nuclear pores and the nuclear envelope in controlling ion flux into the nucleoplasm.
The authors would like to thank Simon Walker and Hattie O'Nions for their help in the preparation of Fig. 2 and Daniel Higazi for preparation of Fig. 3B. This work was supported by the BBSRC and the British Heart Foundation (grants PG/06/034/20637 and PG/07/040). H.L.R. is a Royal Society University Research Fellow. I.S. is a BBSRC-funded PhD student.
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