Calcium leak from intracellular stores--the enigma of calcium signalling.
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Cell Calcium 32 (5-6): 355--361 (2002)

Wherever you travel through the cytoplasm of the cells you will find organelles with internal Ca$^2+$ levels higher than in the surrounding cytosol. This is particularly true of the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) (or sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR) in muscle cells); such organelles serve as the main sources of releasable Ca$^2+$ for cytosolic cellular signalling. Calcium pumps of the SERCA family (sarcoplasmic and endoplasmic reticulum calcium ATP-ases) import calcium into the organelle lumen. The other mechanism that is responsible for the steady state calcium level within the lumen of ER or SR is a calcium leak that balances the influx created by the pumps. The leak remains the most enigmatic of the processes involved in calcium regulation. The molecular nature of the leak mechanism is not known. The basal leak is a relatively slow process, which is difficult to investigate and which is easily outmatched (both in the amplitude of calcium responses and in attractiveness to experimenters) by substantially faster second messenger-induced release. Nevertheless, information on the properties of the calcium leak, although thinly scattered through the pages of PubMed, has been slowly accumulating. In this review we will discuss the properties of the calcium leak and speculate about possible mechanisms, which could mediate this process.
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