Intracellular Ca2+ oscillations are often a response to external signals such as hormones. Changes in the external signal can alter the frequency, amplitude, or form of the oscillations suggesting that information is encoded in the pattern of Ca2+ oscillations. How might a cell decode this signal? We show that an excitable system whose kinetic parameters are modulated by the Ca2+ concentration can function as a Ca2+ oscillation detector. Such systems have the following properties: (1) They are more sensitive to an oscillatory than to a steady Ca2+ signal. (2) Their response is largely independent of the signal amplitude. (3) They can extract information from a noisy signal. (4) Unlike other frequency sensitive detectors, they have a flat frequency response. These properties make a Ca2+ -sensitive excitable system nearly ideal for detecting and decoding Ca2+ oscillations. We suggest that Ca2+ oscillations, in concert with these detectors, can act as cellular timekeepers to coordinate related biochemical reactions and enhance their overall efficiency.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||9|
|State||Published - 1995|
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