In eukaryotic cells, ultimate specificity in activation and action-for example, by means of second messengers-of the myriad of signaling cascades is primordial. In fact, versatile and ubiquitous second messengers, such as calcium (Ca2+) and cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP), regulate multiple-sometimes opposite-cellular functions in a specific spatiotemporal manner. Cells achieve this through segregation of the initiators and modulators to specific plasma membrane (PM) subdomains, such as lipid rafts and caveolae, as well as by dynamic close contacts between the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) membrane and other intracellular organelles, including the PM. Especially, these membrane contact sites (MCSs) are currently receiving a lot of attention as their large influence on cell signaling regulation and cell physiology is increasingly appreciated. Depletion of ER Ca2+ stores activates ER membrane STIM proteins, which activate PM-residing Orai and TRPC Ca2+ channels at ER-PM contact sites. Within the MCS, Ca2+ fluxes relay to cAMP signaling through highly interconnected networks. However, the precise mechanisms of MCS formation and the influence of their dynamic lipid environment on their functional maintenance are not completely understood. The current review aims to provide an overview of our current understanding and to identify open questions of the field.
Keywords: Orai1; SOCE; STIM1; cAMP; calcium; membrane contact sites.