In cell signaling, calcium is king. The flux of calcium ions across cell membranes regulates cellular activities from muscle contraction to neuron firing to immune cell function. A talk I saw here at the Keystone symposium on the molecular basis for biological membrane organization in Big Sky, Montana, presented some significant steps forward in understanding the molecular pathway whereby the cell senses the depletion of calcium from stores in the endoplasmic reticulum and in order to allow the influx of fresh supplies. Jen Liou, a Stanford biologist who I interviewed for a linkurl:story; last year about her discovery of the key signaling protein involved in store-operated calcium entry (SOC), presented new data on the pathway and told me that she plans to continue focusing on it as she seeks to set up her own lab. Researchers still don't know how exactly the protein, called STIM1, interacts with and opens the...

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