Function of a STIM1 homologue in C. elegans: evidence that store-operated Ca2+ entry is not essential for oscillatory Ca2+ signaling and ER Ca2+ homeostasis.J Gen Physiol. 2006 Oct; 128(4):443-59.JG
1,4,5-trisphosphate (IP(3))-dependent Ca(2+) signaling regulates gonad function, fertility, and rhythmic posterior body wall muscle contraction (pBoc) required for defecation in Caenorhabditis elegans. Store-operated Ca(2+) entry (SOCE) is activated during endoplasmic reticulum (ER) Ca(2+) store depletion and is believed to be an essential and ubiquitous component of Ca(2+) signaling pathways. SOCE is thought to function to refill Ca(2+) stores and modulate Ca(2+) signals. Recently, stromal interaction molecule 1 (STIM1) was identified as a putative ER Ca(2+) sensor that regulates SOCE. We cloned a full-length C. elegans stim-1 cDNA that encodes a 530-amino acid protein with approximately 21% sequence identity to human STIM1. Green fluorescent protein (GFP)-tagged STIM-1 is expressed in the intestine, gonad sheath cells, and spermatheca. Knockdown of stim-1 expression by RNA interference (RNAi) causes sterility due to loss of sheath cell and spermatheca contractile activity required for ovulation. Transgenic worms expressing a STIM-1 EF-hand mutant that constitutively activates SOCE in Drosophila and mammalian cells are sterile and exhibit severe pBoc arrhythmia. stim-1 RNAi dramatically reduces STIM-1GFP expression, suppresses the EF-hand mutation-induced pBoc arrhythmia, and inhibits intestinal store-operated Ca(2+) (SOC) channels. However, stim-1 RNAi surprisingly has no effect on pBoc rhythm, which is controlled by intestinal oscillatory Ca(2+) signaling, in wild type and IP(3) signaling mutant worms, and has no effect on intestinal Ca(2+) oscillations and waves. Depletion of intestinal Ca(2+) stores by RNAi knockdown of the ER Ca(2+) pump triggers the ER unfolded protein response (UPR). In contrast, stim-1 RNAi fails to induce the UPR. Our studies provide the first detailed characterization of STIM-1 function in an intact animal and suggest that SOCE is not essential for certain oscillatory Ca(2+) signaling processes and for maintenance of store Ca(2+) levels in C. elegans. These findings raise interesting and important questions regarding the function of SOCE and SOC channels under normal and pathophysiological conditions.