Yeast can proliferate in environments containing very high Ca(2+) primarily due to the activity of vacuolar Ca(2+) transporters Pmc1 and Vcx1. Yeast mutants lacking these transporters fail to grow in high Ca(2+) environments, but growth can be restored by small increases in environmental Mg(2+). Low extracellular Mg(2+) appeared to competitively inhibit novel Ca(2+) influx pathways and to diminish the concentration of free Ca(2+) in the cytoplasm, as judged from the luminescence of the photoprotein aequorin. These Mg(2+)-sensitive Ca(2+) influx pathways persisted in yvc1 cch1 double mutants. Based on mathematical models of the aequorin luminescence traces, we propose the existence in yeast of at least two Ca(2+) transporters that undergo rapid feedback inhibition in response to elevated cytosolic free Ca(2+) concentration. Finally, we show that Vcx1 helps return cytosolic Ca(2+) toward resting levels after shock with high extracellular Ca(2+) much more effectively than Pmc1 and that calcineurin, a protein phosphatase regulator of Vcx1 and Pmc1, had no detectable effects on these factors within the first few minutes of its activation. Therefore, computational modeling of Ca(2+) transport and signaling in yeast can provide important insights into the dynamics of this complex system.
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