Review Paper

Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology

, Volume 30, Issue 8, pp 1283-1292

First online:

Neuronal Calcium Sensor-1 Regulation of Calcium Channels, Secretion, and Neuronal Outgrowth

  • Jamie L. WeissAffiliated withDepartment of Biology, William Paterson University Email author 
  • , Hui HuiAffiliated withDepartment of Pain Medicine, Nanshan Hospital
  • , Robert D. BurgoyneAffiliated withThe Physiological Laboratory, School of Biomedical Sciences, University of Liverpool

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Calcium (Ca2+) is an important intracellular messenger underlying cell physiology. Ca2+ channels are the main entry route for Ca2+ into excitable cells, and regulate processes such as neurotransmitter release and neuronal outgrowth. Neuronal Calcium Sensor-1 (NCS-1) is a member of the Calmodulin superfamily of EF-hand Ca2+ sensing proteins residing in the subfamily of NCS proteins. NCS-1 was originally discovered in Drosophila as an overexpression mutant (Frequenin), having an increased frequency of Ca2+-evoked neurotransmission. NCS-1 is N-terminally myristoylated, can bind intracellular membranes, and has a Ca2+ affinity of 0.3 μM. Over 10 years ago it was discovered that NCS-1 overexpression enhances Ca2+-evoked secretion in bovine adrenal chromaffin cells. The mechanism was unclear, but there was no apparent direct effect on the exocytotic machinery. It was revealed, again in chromaffin cells, that NCS-1 regulates voltage-gated Ca2+ channels (Cavs) in G-Protein Coupled Receptor (GPCR) signaling pathways. This work in chromaffin cells highlighted NCS-1 as an important modulator of neurotransmission. NCS-1 has since been shown to regulate and/or directly interact with many proteins including Cavs (P/Q, N, and L), TRPC1/5 channels, GPCRs, IP3R, and PI4 kinase type IIIβ. NCS-1 also affects neuronal outgrowth having roles in learning and memory affecting both short- and long-term synaptic plasticity. It is not known if NCS-1 affects neurotransmission and synaptic plasticity via its effect on PIP2 levels, and/or via a direct interaction with Ca2+ channels or their signaling complexes. This review gives a historical account of NCS-1 function, examining contributions from chromaffin cells, PC12 cells and other models, to describe how NCS-1’s regulation of Ca2+ channels allows it to exert its physiological effects.


Neuronal Calcium Sensor-1 NCS-1 Frequenin Ca2+ channel Chromaffin cells PC12 cells GPCR Secretion TRPC Cavs Exocytosis PIP2 Ca2+ signaling