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1. The sea urchin egg homogenate is an ideal model to characterize Ca2+-release mechanisms because of its reliability and high signal-to-noise-ratio. Apart from the InsP3- and ryanodine-sensitive Ca2+-release mechanisms, it has been recently demonstrated that this model is responsive to a third independent mechanism, that has the pyridine nucleotide, nicotinic acid adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NAADP), as an endogenous agonist. 2. The sea urchin egg homogenate was used to characterize the pharmacological and biochemical characteristics of the novel Ca2+-releasing agent, NAADP, compared to inositol trisphosphate (InsP3) and cyclic ADP ribose (cyclic ADPR), an endogenous activator of ryanodine receptors. 3. NAADP-induced Ca2+-release was blocked by L-type Ca2+-channel blockers and by Bay K 8644, while InsP3- and cyclic ADPR-induced Ca2+-release were insensitive to these agents. L-type Ca2+-channel blockers did not displace [32P]-NAADP binding, suggesting that their binding site was different. Moreover, stopped-flow kinetic studies revealed that these agents blocked NAADP in a all-or-none fashion. 4. Similarly, a number of K+-channel antagonists blocked NAADP-induced Ca2+-release selectively over InsP3- and cyclic ADPR-induced Ca2+-release. Radioligand studies showed that these agents were not competitive antagonists. 5. As has been shown for InsP3 and ryanodine receptors, NAADP receptors were sensitive to calmodulin antagonists, suggesting that this protein could be a common regulatory feature of intracellular Ca2+-release mechanisms. 6. The presence of K+ was not essential for NAADP-induced Ca2+-release, since substitution of K+ with other monovalent cations in the experimental media did not significantly alter Ca2+ release by NAADP. On the contrary, cyclic ADPR and InsP3-sensitive mechanisms were affected profoundly, although to a different extent depending on the monovalent cation which substituted for K+. Similarly, modifications of the pH in the experimental media from 7.2 to 6.7 or 8.0 only slightly affected NAADP-induced Ca2+-release. While the alkaline condition permitted InsP3 and cyclic ADPR-induced Ca2+-release, the acidic condition completely hampered both Ca2+-release mechanisms. 7. The present results characterize pharmacologically and biochemically the novel Ca2+-release mechanism sensitive to NAADP. Such characterization will help future research aimed at understanding the role of NAADP in mammalian systems.

Original publication




Journal article


British journal of pharmacology

Publication Date





1489 - 1495


University Department of Pharmacology, Oxford.


Ovum, Animals, Sea Urchins, Calcium, NADP, Adenosine Diphosphate Ribose, Cyclic ADP-Ribose, Calcium Channel Blockers, Hydrogen-Ion Concentration, Female