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Hebrew University Study Finds Key Mechanism In Calcium Regulation

All living cells keep their cellular at a very low level. Since a small increase in calcium can affect many critical cellular functions (an elevated over an extended period can induce cell death), powerful cellular mechanisms ensure that quickly returns to its low level.

It is known that impairments of cellular calcium regulation underlie almost all . For example, age-related loss of calcium regulation was shown to promote cell vulnerability in Alzheimer’s disease.

In a study recently published in the Journal of Neuroscience, researchers, along with others from Israel and the US, presented their findings of a previously undescribed which is essential for keeping cellular calcium concentration low. This mechanism operates together with other already characterized mechanisms.

Dr. Shirley Weiss and Prof. Baruch Minke of the Hebrew University’s Institute of Medical Research Israel-Canada (IMRIC) and the Edmond and (ELSC) characterized this mechanism using of the fruit fly, which is a powerful model for studying basic biological processes.

They found that a protein-designated calphotin (a calcium buffer) operates by sequestering elevated calcium concentration. Genetic elimination of calphotin led to a light-induced rise in cellular calcium for an abnormally extended time, leading to retinal photoreceptor degeneration in the fruit flies.

The researchers stress that this kind of research, leading to a better understanding of the fundamental mechanisms underlying cellular calcium regulation, is critical for the development of new drugs and treatments for neurodegenerative diseases.


The Hebrew University of Jerusalem