Nuclear pores enable sustained perinuclear calcium oscillations

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Background Calcium signalling relies on the flux of calcium ions across membranes yet how signals in different compartments are related remains unclear. In particular, similar calcium signals on both sides of the nuclear envelope have been reported and attributed to passive diffusion through nuclear pores. However, observed differing cytosolic and nucleosolic calcium signatures suggest that the signalling machinery in these compartments can act independently. Results We adapt the fire-diffuse-fire model to investigate the generation of perinuclear calcium oscillations. We demonstrate that autonomous spatio-temporal calcium patterns are still possible in the presence of nuclear and cytosolic coupling via nuclear pores. The presence or absence of this autonomy is dependent upon the strength of the coupling and the maximum firing rate of an individual calcium channel. In all cases, coupling through the nuclear pores enables robust signalling with respect to changes in the diffusion constant. Conclusions We show that contradictory interpretations of experimental data with respect to the autonomy of nuclear calcium oscillations can be reconciled within one model, with different observations being a consequence of varying nuclear pore permeabilities for calcium and refractory conditions of channels. Furthermore, our results provide an explanation for why calcium oscillations on both sides of the nuclear envelope may be beneficial for sustained perinuclear signaling.