Lipid rafts/caveolae as microdomains of calcium signaling

Biswaranjan Pani, Brij B. Singh

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

216 Scopus citations


Ca2+ is a major signaling molecule in both excitable and non-excitable cells, where it serves critical functions ranging from cell growth to differentiation to cell death. The physiological functions of these cells are tightly regulated in response to changes in cytosolic Ca2+ that is achieved by the activation of several plasma membrane (PM) Ca2+ channels as well as release of Ca2+ from the internal stores. One such channel is referred to as store-operated Ca2+ channel that is activated by the release of endoplasmic reticulum (ER) Ca2+ which initiates store-operated Ca2+ entry (SOCE). Recent advances in the field suggest that some members of TRPCs and Orai channels function as SOCE channels. However, the molecular mechanisms that regulate channel activity and the exact nature of where these channels are assembled and regulated remain elusive. Research from several laboratories has demonstrated that key proteins involved in Ca2+ signaling are localized in discrete PM lipid rafts/caveolar microdomains. Lipid rafts are cholesterol and sphingolipid-enriched microdomains that function as unique signal transduction platforms. In addition lipid rafts are dynamic in nature which tends to scaffold certain signaling molecules while excluding others. By such spatial segregation, lipid rafts not only provide a favorable environment for intra-molecular cross-talk but also aid to expedite the signal relay. Importantly, Ca2+ signaling is shown to initiate from these lipid raft microdomains. Clustering of Ca2+ channels and their regulators in such microdomains can provide an exquisite spatiotemporal regulation of Ca2+-mediated cellular function. Thus in this review we discuss PM lipid rafts and caveolae as Ca2+-signaling microdomains and highlight their importance in organizing and regulating SOCE channels.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)625-633
Number of pages9
JournalCell Calcium
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Ca signaling
  • Caveolin
  • Lipid rafts/caveolae
  • Membrane microdomains
  • STIM
  • Signal transduction
  • Store-operated Ca entry (SOCE)
  • TRPC channels

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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