Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California

UC Irvine

UC Irvine Previously Published Works bannerUC Irvine

Genetically targeted single-channel optical recording reveals multiple Orai1 gating states and oscillations in calcium influx.


Orai1 comprises the pore-forming subunit of the Ca(2+) release-activated Ca(2+) (CRAC) channel. When bound and activated by stromal interacting molecule 1 (STIM1), an endoplasmic reticulum (ER)-resident calcium sensor, Orai1 channels possess high selectivity for calcium but extremely small conductance that has precluded direct recording of single-channel currents. We have developed an approach to visualize Orai1 activity by fusing Orai1 to fluorescent, genetically encoded calcium indicators (GECIs). The GECI-Orai1 probes reveal local Ca(2+) influx at STIM1-Orai1 puncta. By whole cell recording, these fusions are fully functional as CRAC channels. When GECI-Orai1 and the CRAC-activating domain (CAD) of STIM1 were coexpressed at low levels and imaged using a total internal reflectance fluorescence microscope, cells exhibited sporadic fluorescence transients the size of diffraction-limited spots and the brightness of a few activated GECI proteins. Transients typically rose rapidly and fell into two classes according to duration: briefer "flickers" lasting only a few hundred milliseconds, and longer "pulses" lasting one to several seconds. The size, intensity, trace shape, frequency, distribution, physiological characteristics, and association with CAD binding together demonstrate that GECI-Orai1 fluorescence transients correspond to single-channel Orai1 responses. Single Orai1 channels gated by CAD, and small Orai1 puncta gated by STIM1, exhibit repetitive fluctuations in single-channel output. CAD binding supports a role in open state maintenance and reveals a second phase of CAD/STIM1 binding after channel opening. These first recordings of single-channel Orai1 currents reveal unexpected dynamics, and when paired with CAD association, support multiple single-channel states.

Many UC-authored scholarly publications are freely available on this site because of the UC's open access policies. Let us know how this access is important for you.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View