Intestinal enteroendocrine cells rely on ryanodine and IP3 calcium store receptors for mechanotransduction

Kaitlyn R. Knutson, Sara T. Whiteman, Constanza Alcaino, Arnaldo Mercado-Perez, Isabelle Finholm, Hannah K. Serlin, Shreya S. Bellampalli, David R. Linden, Gianrico Farrugia, Arthur Beyder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Abstract: Enteroendocrine cells (EECs) are specialized sensors of luminal forces and chemicals in the gastrointestinal (GI) epithelium that respond to stimulation with a release of signalling molecules such as serotonin (5-HT). For mechanosensitive EECs, force activates Piezo2 channels, which generate a very rapidly activating and inactivating (∼10 ms) cationic (Na+, K+, Ca2+) receptor current. Piezo2 receptor currents lead to a large and persistent increase in intracellular calcium (Ca2+) that lasts many seconds to sometimes minutes, suggesting signal amplification. However, intracellular calcium dynamics in EEC mechanotransduction remain poorly understood. The aim of this study was to determine the role of Ca2+ stores in EEC mechanotransduction. Mechanical stimulation of a human EEC cell model (QGP-1) resulted in a rapid increase in cytoplasmic Ca2+ and a slower decrease in ER stores Ca2+, suggesting the involvement of intracellular Ca2+ stores. Comparing murine primary colonic EECs with colonocytes showed expression of intercellular Ca2+ store receptors, a similar expression of IP3 receptors, but a >30-fold enriched expression of Ryr3 in EECs. In mechanically stimulated primary EECs, Ca2+ responses decreased dramatically by emptying stores and pharmacologically blocking IP3 and RyR1/3 receptors. RyR3 genetic knockdown by siRNA led to a significant decrease in mechanosensitive Ca2+ responses and 5-HT release. In tissue, pressure-induced increase in the Ussing short circuit current was significantly decreased by ryanodine receptor blockade. Our data show that mechanosensitive EECs use intracellular Ca2+ stores to amplify mechanically induced Ca2+ entry, with RyR3 receptors selectively expressed in EECs and involved in Ca2+ signalling, 5-HT release and epithelial secretion. (Figure presented.). Key points: A population of enteroendocrine cells (EECs) are specialized mechanosensors of the gastrointestinal (GI) epithelium that respond to mechanical stimulation with the release of important signalling molecules such as serotonin. Mechanical activation of these EECs leads to an increase in intracellular calcium (Ca2+) with a longer duration than the stimulus, suggesting intracellular Ca2+ signal amplification. In this study, we profiled the expression of intracellular Ca2+ store receptors and found an enriched expression of the intracellular Ca2+ receptor Ryr3, which contributed to the mechanically evoked increases in intracellular calcium, 5-HT release and epithelial secretion. Our data suggest that mechanosensitive EECs rely on intracellular Ca2+ stores and are selective in their use of Ryr3 for amplification of intracellular Ca2+. This work advances our understanding of EEC mechanotransduction and may provide novel diagnostic and therapeutic targets for GI motility disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)287-305
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Physiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 15 2023


  • enteroendocrine cells
  • intracellular stores
  • mechanotransduction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology


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