Changes in intracellular free Ca 2+ concentration ([Ca 2+] i) affect many different aspects of neuronal function ranging from millisecond regulation of ion channels to long term changes in gene expression. These effects of Ca 2+ are transduced by Ca 2+-binding proteins that act as Ca 2+ sensors by binding Ca 2+, undergoing a conformational change and then modifying the function of additional target proteins. Mammalian species express 14 members of the neuronal calcium sensor (NCS) family of EF hand-containing Ca 2+-binding proteins which are expressed mainly in photoreceptor cells or neurons. Many of the NCS proteins are membrane targeted through their N-terminal myristoylation either constitutively or following exposure of the myristoyl group after Ca 2+ binding (the Ca 2+/myristoyl switch). The NCS proteins have been implicated in a wide range of functional roles in neuronal regulation, several of which have been confirmed though molecular genetic analyses. © 2004 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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