Persistent intracellular calcium pool depletion by thapsigargin and its influence on cell growth

Tarun K. Ghosh, Junhui Bian, Alison D. Short, Sheree L. Rybak, Donald L. Gill

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214 Scopus citations


The intracellular Ca2+ pump inhibitor, thapsigargin, added to DDT1MF-2 smooth muscle cells in culture, irreversibly inhibited accumulation of Ca2+ within cells, permanently emptied the inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate (InsP3)-sensitive Ca2+ pool, and simultaneously induced profound alteration of cell growth. After only a brief (30-min) treatment of cultured cells with 3 μM thapsigargin followed by extensive washing, the total releasable InsP3-sensitive Ca2+ pool remained entirely empty, even after 7 days of culture without thapsigargin. After thapsigargin treatment, cells retained viability, usual morphology, and normal mitochondrial function. Despite the otherwise normal appearance and function of thapsigargin-treated cells, cell division was completely blocked by thapsigargin. DNA synthesis was completely inhibited when thapsigargin was added immediately after passaging, but was suppressed only slowly (4-6 h) when added to rapidly synthesizing cells (24 h after passaging). Protein synthesis was reduced by approximately 70% in thapsigargin-treated cells. The sensitivity of thapsigargin-mediated inhibition of cell division, DNA synthesis, protein synthesis, and Ca2+-pumping activity were all similar with the EC50 values for thapsigargin in each case being close to 10 nM. Upon application to DDT1MF-2 cells, thapsigargin transiently increased resting cytosolic Ca2+ (0.15 μM) to a peak of 0.3 μM within 50 s; thereafter, free Ca2+ declined to 0.2 μM by 150 s and continued to slowly decline toward resting levels. Cells treated with thapsigargin for 1-72 h in culture displayed normal resting cytosolic Ca2+ levels. However, application of thapsigargin or epinephrine to such cells resulted in no change in the intracellular Ca2+, indicating that the internal Ca2+ pool remained completely empty. These results suggest that emptying of Ca2+ from intracellular thapsigargin-sensitive Ca2+-pumping pools induces profound alteration of cell proliferation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)24690-24697
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number36
StatePublished - Dec 25 1991

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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