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Cyclic ADP-ribose (cADPR) is a cyclic metabolite of NAD+ synthesised in cells and tissues expressing ADP-ribosyl cyclases. Although it was first discovered in sea-urchin egg extracts as a potent calcium mobilizing agent, subsequent studies have indicated that it may have a widespread action in the activation of calcium-release channels in such diverse systems as mammalian neurones, myocytes, blood cells, eggs, and plant microsomes. In this review we focus on recent work suggesting that cADPR enhances the sensitivity of ryanodine-sensitive calcium-release channels (RyRs) to activation by calcium, a phenomenon termed calcium-induced calcium release (CICR). Two roles for cADPR in calcium signaling are discussed. The first is as a classical second messenger where its levels are controlled by extracellular stimuli, and the second mode of cellular regulation is that the levels of intracellular cADPR may set the sensitivity of RyRs to activation by an influx of calcium in excitable cells. These two possible actions of cADPR are illustrated by considering the signal transduction events during the fertilization of the sea-urchin egg and the modulation of CICR during excitation-coupling in isolated guinea-pig ventricular myocytes, respectively.

Original publication




Journal article


Cell biochemistry and biophysics

Publication Date





19 - 30


University Department of Pharmacology, Oxford, UK.


Myocardium, Oocytes, Animals, Humans, Calcium, Adenosine Diphosphate Ribose, Cyclic ADP-Ribose, Fertilization, Myocardial Contraction