In the board game ‘Snakes and Ladders’, placed on the image of a pancreatic acinar cell, calcium ions have to move from release sites in the secretory region to the nucleus. There is another important contraflow – from calcium entry channels in the basal part of the cell to ER (endoplasmic reticulum) terminals in the secretory granule region. Both transport routes are perilous as the messenger can disappear in any place on the game board. It can be grabbed by calcium ATPases of the ER (masquerading as a snake but functioning like a ladder) and tunnelled through its low buffering environment, it can be lured into the whirlpools of mitochondria uniporters and forced to regulate the tricarboxylic acid cycle, and it can be permanently placed inside the matrix of secretory granules and released only outside the cell. The organelles could trade calcium (e.g. from the ER to mitochondria and vice versa) almost depriving this ion the light of the cytosol and noble company of cytosolic calcium buffers. Altogether it is a rich and colourful story.

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