We have investigated how the programme of protein synthesis is altered in response to a loss of calcium homoeostasis in Cos-7 cells using a differential proteome mapping approach. Exposure of the cells to the calcium ionophore A23187 or thapsigargin, or alternatively, expression of a viral glycoprotein reported to deplete intracellular calcium stores, resulted in the up-regulated expression of a characteristic set of proteins. One of these is the translationally controlled tumour protein (TCTP), a cytoplasmic protein whose expression has not previously been linked to calcium perturbation. Quantitative Northern blot assay demonstrated that steady-state mRNA abundance of TCTP was also increased under these conditions. Clamping the cytosolic calcium concentration by the introduction of bis-(o-aminophenoxy)-ethane-N,N,N′,N′-tetra-acetic acid (BAPTA) into cells did not affect the increase in steady-state levels of TCTP mRNA observed in response to ionophore. Therefore depletion of endoplasmic reticulum (ER) calcium, but not elevation of the cytosolic calcium concentration, was responsible for increased transcription of the TCTP gene. However, the presence of BAPTA significantly attenuated the ionophore-mediated increase in levels of the protein. Moreover, the level of TCTP in ionophore-treated cells increased in advance of a detectable increase in the corresponding mRNA abundance. These results indicate that expression of TCTP is regulated at two distinct levels in response to the concentration of calcium in different cellular compartments. Whereas depletion of the ER store causes an increase in TCTP mRNA abundance, increased cytosolic calcium concentrations regulate gene expression at the post-transcriptional level.

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