Increases in cytosolic free Ca2+ ([Ca2+]i) represent a ubiquitous signalling mechanism that controls a variety of cellular processes, including proliferation, metabolism and gene transcription, yet under certain conditions increases in intracellular Ca2+ are cytotoxic. Thus, in using Ca2+ as a messenger, cells walk a tightrope in which [Ca2+]i is strictly maintained within defined boundaries. To adhere to these boundaries and to sustain their modified phenotype, many cancer cells remodel the expression or activity of their Ca2+ signalling apparatus. Here, we review the role of Ca2+ in promoting cell proliferation and cell death, how these processes are remodelled in cancer and the opportunities this might provide for therapeutic intervention.
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