CRAC channel regulation of innate immune cells in health and disease

Regina A. Clemens, Clifford A. Lowell

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Calcium is a major intracellular signaling messenger in innate immune cells. Similar to other immune cell subsets, the majority of calcium entry into innate immune cells is induced by cell surface receptors that stimulate store-operated calcium entry through calcium-release activated calcium (CRAC) channels. Since the molecular description of the STIM family of calcium sensors and the ORAI family of CRAC channel proteins, the majority of studies support a dominant role for these proteins in calcium signaling in innate cells. In reviewing the literature on CRAC channel function in innate cells, several general themes emerge. All innate cells express multiple members of the STIM and ORAI family members, however the ratio and relative contribution of individual isoforms changes depending on the cell type and activation state of the cell. It is evident that study of functional roles for STIM molecules is clearly ahead of studies of specific ORAI family members in all innate cell types, and that studies of CRAC channels in innate cells are not nearly as advanced as studies in lymphocytes. However, taken together, evidence from both STIM calcium sensors and ORAI channels in innate cells indicates that deficiency of STIM and ORAI proteins tends not to affect the development of any innate cell lineage, but certainly affects their function, in particular activation of the neutrophil oxidase and mast cell activation via IgE receptors. Furthermore, there are clearly hints that therapeutic targeting of CRAC channels in innate cells offers a new approach to various inflammatory and allergic diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)56-65
Number of pages10
JournalCell Calcium
StatePublished - Mar 2019


  • CRAC channel
  • Calcium
  • Dendritic cell
  • Inflammation
  • Mast cell
  • Monocyte
  • Neutrophil
  • ORAI
  • Orai1
  • Orai2
  • Orai3
  • STIM
  • Stim1
  • Stim2
  • Store-operated calcium entry


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