Ca2+ mobilization from intracellular stores represents an important cell signalling process1 that is regulated, in mammalian cells, by inositol-1,4,5-trisphosphate (InsP3), cyclic ADP ribose and nicotinic acid adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NAADP). InsP3 and cyclic ADP ribose cause the release of Ca2+ from sarcoplasmic/endoplasmic reticulum stores by the activation of InsP3 and ryanodine receptors (InsP3Rs and RyRs). In contrast, the nature of the intracellular stores targeted by NAADP and the molecular identity of the NAADP receptors remain controversial1,2, although evidence indicates that NAADP mobilizes Ca2+ from lysosome-related acidic compartments3,4. Here we show that two-pore channels (TPCs) comprise a family of NAADP receptors, with human TPC1 (also known as TPCN1) and chicken TPC3 (TPCN3) being expressed on endosomal membranes, and human TPC2 (TPCN2) on lysosomal membranes when expressed in HEK293 cells. Membranes enriched with TPC2 show high affinity NAADP binding, and TPC2 underpins NAADP-induced Ca2+ release from lysosome-related stores that is subsequently amplified by Ca2+-induced Ca2+ release by InsP3Rs. Responses to NAADP were abolished by disrupting the lysosomal proton gradient and by ablating TPC2 expression, but were only attenuated by depleting endoplasmic reticulum Ca2+ stores or by blocking InsP3Rs. Thus, TPCs form NAADP receptors that release Ca2+ from acidic organelles, which can trigger further Ca2+ signals via sarcoplasmic/endoplasmic reticulum. TPCs therefore provide new insights into the regulation and organization of Ca2+ signals in animal cells, and will advance our understanding of the physiological role of NAADP.

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This work was supported by grants from the UK Wellcome Trust and the British Heart Foundation to A.G., J.P. and A.M.E., the US National Institutes of Health to M.X.Z. and J.M., and the American Heart Association to M.X.Z. A.G. was a Wellcome Senior Research Fellow in basic Biomedical Science. The work of A.M.E. was funded by a Wellcome Trust Project Grant (CNW, reference number 070772) and a British Heart Foundation Studentship (PJC, reference number FS/05/050). Part of the work of M.X.Z. was made possible by US National Institutes of Health grant P30-NS045758. We thank T. Kong and W. Li for the HepG2 cell line, O. Ogunbayo for technical assistance, and F. Platt, A. Morgan and M. Viapiano for help with the manuscript.

Author Contributions J.T., R.X. and M.X.Z. cloned TPC1, TPC2 and TPC3. J.T., Y.L., C.W., X.H. and M.X.Z. produced stable cell lines and performed immunostaining and confocal microscopy. X.C., M.R., J.P. and A.G. performed radioligand binding. A.A. and A.G. performed flash photolysis experiments. P.J.C., C.N.W. and A.M.E. performed NAADP dialysis, Ca2+ imaging, shRNA knockdown, western blotting and associated immunocytochemistry and deconvolution microscopy. M.R., K.R., J.P. and A.G. produced and characterized the TPC2 antibody and performed immunostaining and confocal microscopy. K.R. and Y.Z. performed qRT–PCR, Z.P., P.L. and J.M. produced shRNA constructs and studied the effect of NAADP on HepG2 cells. M.R., A.A., L.T., K.-T.C., J.P. and A.G. produced and characterized the Tpc2 knockout mice and carried out β-cell studies. M.X.Z, J.M., A.M.E., J.P. and A.G. wrote the manuscript. All authors discussed the results and commented on the manuscript.

Author information

Author notes

    • Peter J. Calcraft
    • , Margarida Ruas
    •  & Zui Pan

    These authors contributed equally to this work.


  1. Centre for Integrative Physiology, College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine, University of Edinburgh, Hugh Robson Building, Edinburgh EH8 9XD, Scotland, UK

    • Peter J. Calcraft
    • , Christopher N. Wyatt
    •  & A. Mark Evans
  2. Department of Pharmacology, University of Oxford, Mansfield Road, Oxford OX1 3QT, UK

    • Margarida Ruas
    • , Xiaotong Cheng
    • , Abdelilah Arredouani
    • , Katja Rietdorf
    • , Kai-Ting Chuang
    • , John Parrington
    •  & Antony Galione
  3. Department of Physiology and Biophysics, UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, 675 Hoes Lane, Piscataway, New Jersey 08854, USA

    • Zui Pan
    • , Peihui Lin
    •  & Jianjie Ma
  4. College of Life Sciences, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China

    • Xuemei Hao
  5. Department of Neuroscience, Biochemistry, and Center for Molecular Neurobiology, The Ohio State University, 1060 Carmack Road, Columbus, Ohio 43210, USA

    • Xuemei Hao
    • , Jisen Tang
    • , Rui Xiao
    • , Chunbo Wang
    • , Yingmin Zhu
    • , Yakang Lin
    •  & Michael X. Zhu
  6. The Mary Lyon Centre, MRC Harwell, Oxfordshire OX11 0RD, UK

    • Lydia Teboul


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Corresponding author

Correspondence to Michael X. Zhu.

The following sequences have been deposited in the GenBank database: AY029200 (human TPC2), AY083666 (human TPC1), EU344154 (chicken TPC3), EU344155 (rabbit TPC3), BK006366 (dog TPC3), BK006367 (zebrafish TPC3), BK006368 (horse TPC3) and BK006573 (bovine TPC3).

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  1. 1.

    Supplementary Information

    This file contains Supplementary Figures 1-10 with Legends, Supplementary Methods, Supplementary Table 1, Supplementary References and Legends for Supplementary Movies 1-3.


  1. 1.

    Supplementary Movie 1

    This movie shows a 3D reconstruction of confocal images of HEK293 cells stably expressing HA-tagged humanTPC2 (see file s1 for full Legend).

  2. 2.

    Supplementary Movie 2

    This movie shows localized Ca2+ wave elicited by NAADP in TPC1-overexpressing cells (see file s1 for full Legend).

  3. 3.

    Supplementary Movie 3

    This movie shows active movement of TPC1- or TPC2-containing intracellular vesicles (see file s1 for full Legend).

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