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Cell adhesion and intracellular calcium signaling in neurons

Lifu Sheng, Iryna Leshchyns’ka and Vladimir Sytnyk*

Author Affiliations

School of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences, The University of New South Wales, Sydney, New South Wales 2052, Australia

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Cell Communication and Signaling 2013, 11:94  doi:10.1186/1478-811X-11-94

Published: 13 December 2013


Cell adhesion molecules (CAMs) play indispensable roles in the developing and mature brain by regulating neuronal migration and differentiation, neurite outgrowth, axonal fasciculation, synapse formation and synaptic plasticity. CAM-mediated changes in neuronal behavior depend on a number of intracellular signaling cascades including changes in various second messengers, among which CAM-dependent changes in intracellular Ca2+ levels play a prominent role. Ca2+ is an essential secondary intracellular signaling molecule that regulates fundamental cellular functions in various cell types, including neurons. We present a systematic review of the studies reporting changes in intracellular Ca2+ levels in response to activation of the immunoglobulin superfamily CAMs, cadherins and integrins in neurons. We also analyze current experimental evidence on the Ca2+ sources and channels involved in intracellular Ca2+ increases mediated by CAMs of these families, and systematically review the role of the voltage-dependent Ca2+ channels (VDCCs) in neurite outgrowth induced by activation of these CAMs. Molecular mechanisms linking CAMs to VDCCs and intracellular Ca2+ stores in neurons are discussed.

Cell adhesion molecule; Neurons; Calcium; Voltage dependent Ca2+ channel; Neurite outgrowth