The Ca2+ release-activated Ca2+ (CRAC) channel is a highly Ca2+-selective store-operated channel expressed in T cells, mast cells, and various other tissues. CRAC channels regulate critical cellular processes such as gene expression, motility, and the secretion of inflammatory mediators. The identification of Orai1, a key subunit of the CRAC channel pore, and STIM1, the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) Ca2+ sensor, have provided the tools to illuminate the mechanisms of regulation and the pore properties of CRAC channels. Opening of CRAC channels enables the refilling of ER Ca2+ stores and sustains long-lasting Ca2+oscillations and plateau signals, critical for the proliferation of T cells and production of cytokines following antigenic stimulation.
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