CRAC channels regulate astrocyte Ca2+ signaling and gliotransmitter release to modulate hippocampal GABAergic transmission

Anna B. Toth, Kotaro Hori, Michaela M. Novakovic, Natalie G. Bernstein, Laurie Lambot, Murali Prakriya*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Astrocytes are the major glial subtype in the brain and mediate numerous functions ranging from metabolic support to gliotransmitter release through signaling mechanisms controlled by Ca2+. Despite intense interest, the Ca2+ influx pathways in astrocytes remain obscure, hindering mechanistic insights into how Ca2+ signaling is coupled to downstream astrocyte-mediated effector functions. Here, we identified store-operated Ca2+ release-activated Ca2+ (CRAC) channels encoded by Orai1 and STIM1 as a major route of Ca2+ entry for driving sustained and oscillatory Ca2+ signals in astrocytes after stimulation of metabotropic purinergic and protease-activated receptors. Using synaptopHluorin as an optical reporter, we showed that the opening of astrocyte CRAC channels stimulated vesicular exocytosis to mediate the release of gliotransmitters, including ATP. Furthermore, slice electrophysiological recordings showed that activation of astrocytes by protease-activated receptors stimulated interneurons in the CA1 hippocampus to increase inhibitory postsynaptic currents on CA1 pyramidal cells. These results reveal a central role for CRAC channels as regulators of astrocyte Ca2+ signaling, gliotransmitter release, and astrocyte-mediated tonic inhibition of CA1 pyramidal neurons.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberaaw5450
JournalScience Signaling
Issue number582
StatePublished - May 21 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology

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