The essential role of ORAI1 channels in receptor-evoked Ca2+ signaling is well understood, yet little is known about the physiological activation of the ORAI channel trio natively expressed in all cells. The roles of ORAI2 and ORAI3 have remained obscure. We show that ORAI2 and ORAI3 channels play a critical role in mediating the regenerative Ca2+ oscillations induced by physiological receptor activation, yet ORAI1 is dispensable in generation of oscillations. We reveal that ORAI2 and ORAI3 channels multimerize with ORAI1 to expand the range of sensitivity of receptor-activated Ca2+ signals, reflecting their enhanced basal STIM1-binding and heightened Ca2+-dependent inactivation. This broadened bandwidth of Ca2+ influx is translated by cells into differential activation of NFAT1 and NFAT4 isoforms. Our results uncover a long-sought role for ORAI2 and ORAI3, revealing an intricate control mechanism whereby heteromerization of ORAI channels mediates graded Ca2+ signals that extend the agonist-sensitivity to fine-tune transcriptional control.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2444
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemistry
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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