The Ca2+-calcineurin-NFAT pathway is essential for the adaptive immune response, a point underscored by the clinical efficacy of the calcineurin inhibitors cyclosporin A (CsA) and FK506. In T cells, the transcription factor NFAT translocates from the cytoplasm into the nucleus in response to Ca2+ entry through `CRAC' channels, which are opened by the calcium sensors STIM1 and STIM2 in response to depletion of endoplasmic reticulum (ER) Ca2+ stores. During the previous two funding periods of this project, we used genome-wide RNAi screening in Drosophila and functional studies in human and mouse T cells to demonstrate that the long-sought CRAC channel is assembled from ORAI-family proteins; showed that a mutation in ORAI1 is responsible for a hereditary human immunodeficiency disease; and established by mutational analysis that ORAI1 is the pore subunit of the CRAC channel. We generated gene-disrupted mice with a complete deletion of ORAI1 or with conditional (`floxed') alleles of the ER Ca2+ sensors STIM1 or STIM2 and analyzed their immune phenotypes. We also performed a genome-wide RNAi screen in human cells (HeLa cells) that identified multiple proteins that modulate NFAT activation. Followup to this screen demonstrated that septins are essential modulators of the store-operated STIM-ORAI Ca2+ entry pathway in cells. Through biochemical studies of STIM1, ORAI1, and their protein-protein interactions, we showed that the cytoplasmic region of STIM1 by itself suffices to gate the ORAI1 channel; mapped the pore-lining transmembrane helices of the ORAI1 channel; and unraveled the mechanism through which dimerization of the ER-luminal domains of STIM1 triggers a conformational change in the cytoplasmic domains of STIM1, and thereby activates STIM to open the ORAI channel. In this proposal, we will build on these findings to extend our understanding of STIM-ORAI signalling and Ca2+ entry pathways in T cells.
In Aim 1, we will investigate ORAI1 channel gating using purified STIM1, ORAI1, and protein modulators. For this, we are developing and utilizing state-of-art-techniques for monitoring protein- protein interactions and protein conformational changes.
In Aim 2, we will investigate a novel alternative Ca2+ influx pathway that operates in addition to the STIM-ORAI Ca2+ entry pathway in differentiated mouse and human T cells.
Aim 1 is broadly relevant to many biological processes and to cancer, since STIM-ORAI proteins mediate store-operated Ca2+ entry not only in immune and haematopoietic cells (T and B lymphocytes, mast cells, platelets) but also in skeletal muscle, smooth muscle, exocrine organs, certain cancers, and almost certainly most other cell types.
Aim 2 is designed to establish the molecular identity of the newly documented pathway for Ca2+ entry into immune cells, information that could have major relevance for the treatment of immune disorders and asthma. The two aims dovetail in being directed toward a more complete understanding of physiological Ca2+ signalling in T cells.

Public Health Relevance

Calcium has critical regulatory roles in all cells in the body. When calcium enters T cells, the protein NFAT moves into the cell nucleus, binds to DNA, and coordinates activation of genes important for the functioning of the T cells. The calcium-NFAT pathway also participates in controlling diverse cellular functions in many other kinds of cells, including those of the brain, heart, muscle, and can have both positive and negative influences on cancer progression. In previous funding periods of this project, we discovered a key pathway for calcium entry into T cells, and conducted a large-scale screen for cellular proteins that regulate this pathway. We also obtained evidence that there is a second, previously unrecognized, pathway for calcium entry into T cells, which is likely to play an essential role in immune responses to bacteria, viruses, and cancer cells. In this continuation project, we will analyze both these calcium entry pathways in detail. We expect that our studies will identify specific cellular proteins and regulatory mechanisms that may point to new therapies for autoimmunity, asthma, and other immune diseases.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)
Research Project (R01)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Cellular and Molecular Immunology - A Study Section (CMIA)
Program Officer
Mallia, Conrad M
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
La Jolla Institute
La Jolla
United States
Zip Code
Gudlur, Aparna; Zeraik, Ana Eliza; Hirve, Nupura et al. (2018) Calcium sensing by the STIM1 ER-luminal domain. Nat Commun 9:4536
Hirve, Nupura; Rajanikanth, Vangipurapu; Hogan, Patrick G et al. (2018) Coiled-Coil Formation Conveys a STIM1 Signal from ER Lumen to Cytoplasm. Cell Rep 22:72-83
Pollak, Adam J; Liu, Canzhao; Gudlur, Aparna et al. (2018) A secretory pathway kinase regulates sarcoplasmic reticulum Ca2+ homeostasis and protects against heart failure. Elife 7:
Gudlur, Aparna; Hogan, Patrick G (2017) The STIM-Orai Pathway: Orai, the Pore-Forming Subunit of the CRAC Channel. Adv Exp Med Biol 993:39-57
Hogan, Patrick G (2017) Calcium-NFAT transcriptional signalling in T cell activation and T cell exhaustion. Cell Calcium 63:66-69
Mognol, Giuliana P; Spreafico, Roberto; Wong, Victor et al. (2017) Exhaustion-associated regulatory regions in CD8+ tumor-infiltrating T cells. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 114:E2776-E2785
Srinivasan, P (2016) Multifunctional-layered materials for creating membrane-restricted nanodomains and nanoscale imaging. Appl Phys Lett 108:033702
Quintana, Ariel; Rajanikanth, Vangipurapu; Farber-Katz, Suzette et al. (2015) TMEM110 regulates the maintenance and remodeling of mammalian ER-plasma membrane junctions competent for STIM-ORAI signaling. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 112:E7083-92
Hogan, Patrick G (2015) Sphingomyelin, ORAI1 channels, and cellular Ca2+ signaling. J Gen Physiol 146:195-200
Jing, Ji; He, Lian; Sun, Aomin et al. (2015) Proteomic mapping of ER-PM junctions identifies STIMATE as a regulator of Ca²? influx. Nat Cell Biol 17:1339-47

Showing the most recent 10 out of 27 publications