Changes in cellular calcium concentration control a wide range of physiological processes, from the subsecond release of synaptic neurotransmitters, to the regulation of gene expression over months or years. Calcium can also trigger cell death through both apoptosis and necrosis, and so the regulation of cellular calcium concentration must be tightly controlled through the concerted action of pumps, channels and buffers that transport calcium into and out of the cell cytoplasm. A hallmark of cellular calcium signalling is its spatiotemporal complexity: stimulation of cells by a hormone or neurotransmitter leads to oscillations in cytoplasmic calcium concentration that can vary markedly in time course, amplitude, frequency, and spatial range.
In this chapter we review some of the biological roles of calcium, the experimental characterisation of complex dynamic changes in calcium concentration, and attempts to explain this complexity using computational models. We consider the "toolkit" of cellular proteins which influence calcium concentration, describe mechanistic models of key elements of the toolkit, and fit these into the framework of whole cell models of calcium oscillations and waves. Finally, we will touch on recent efforts to use stochastic modelling to elucidate elementary calcium signal events, and how these may evolve into global signals.
Thul, R., Bellamy, T., Roderick, L., Bootman, M., & Coombes, S. (2007). Calcium oscillations. In M. Maroto, & N. Monk (Eds.), Cellular Oscillatory Mechanisms. Springer