Unravelling response-specificity in Ca2+ signalling pathways in plant cells

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Considerable advances have been made, both in the technologies available to study changes in intracellular cytosolic free Ca2+ ([Ca2+](i)), and in our understanding of Ca2+ signalling cascades in plant cells, but how specificity can be generated from such a ubiquitous component as Ca2+ is questionable. Recently the concept of 'Ca2+ signatures' has been formulated; tight control of the temporal and spatial characteristics of alterations in [Ca2+](i) signals is thought to be responsible, at least in part, for the specificity of the response. However, the way in which Ca2+ signatures are decoded, which depends on the nature and location of the targets of the Ca2+ signals, has received little attention. In a few key systems, progress is being made on how diverse Ca2+ signatures might be transduced within cells in response to specific signals. Valuable pieces of the signal-specificity puzzle are being put together and this is illustrated here using some key examples; these emphasize the global importance of Ca2+-mediated signal-transduction cascades in the responses of plants to a wide diversity of extracellular signals. However, the way in which signal specificity is encoded and transduced is still far from clear. (C) New Phytologist (2001) 151. 7-33.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7-33
Number of pages27
JournalNew Phytologist
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2001


  • Ca2+ signalling in plants
  • Ca2+ signature
  • signal-response coupling
  • response specificity


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