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Calcium Signalling and Regulation of Cell Function

  1. Martin D Bootman1,
  2. Katja Rietdorf2,
  3. Holly Hardy2,
  4. Yana Dautova2,
  5. Elaine Corps2,
  6. Cristina Pierro2,
  7. Eloise Stapleton2,
  8. Esther Kang2,
  9. Diane Proudfoot2

Published Online: 15 OCT 2012

DOI: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0001265.pub3



How to Cite

Bootman, M. D., Rietdorf, K., Hardy, H., Dautova, Y., Corps, E., Pierro, C., Stapleton, E., Kang, E. and Proudfoot, D. 2012. Calcium Signalling and Regulation of Cell Function. eLS. .

Author Information

  1. 1

    The Open University, Walton Hall, Milton Keynes, UK

  2. 2

    Babraham Institute, Babraham, Cambridge, UK

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 OCT 2012


The calcium ion (Ca2+) is a versatile intracellular messenger. It provides dynamic regulation of vast array of cellular processes such as gene transcription, differentiation and contraction. Ca2+ signals range from microsecond, nanoscopic events to intercellular waves lasting for many seconds. This diversity of Ca2+ signals arises from the wide assortment of Ca2+ transport and Ca2+ buffering processes employed by cells. Additional diversity in Ca2+ signalling stems from the ability of cells to utilise different sources of Ca2+. The cytosol is the principal Ca2+ signalling compartment. When Ca2+ ions enter the cytosol they interact with numerous Ca2+-binding proteins, thereby leading to activation, or inhibition, of cellular processes. Specificity is achieved by regulating the spatial and kinetic properties of Ca2+ signal. In this way, many concurrent Ca2+-sensitive cellular processes can be discretely regulated. A number of pathologies have been related to the breakdown of cellular Ca2+ homoeostasis or to aberrant Ca2+ signalling.

Key Concepts:

  • Calcium is a critical intracellular signal that controls key cell fate decisions.

  • Calcium signals derive from multiple sources that are accessed by a diverse range of transport mechanisms.

  • The kinetics and spatial properties of calcium signals determine their impact on cellular activity.

  • Ca2+ signals are tissue-specific and are appropriate to regulate the physiological functions of individual cell types.


  • calcium;
  • signalling;
  • channel;
  • homoeostasis;
  • ion