Calibration of mammalian skeletal muscle Ca2+ transients recorded with the fast Ca2+ dye Mag-Fluo-4

Biochim Biophys Acta Gen Subj. 2021 Sep;1865(9):129939. doi: 10.1016/j.bbagen.2021.129939. Epub 2021 Jun 1.


Background: Mag-Fluo-4 is increasingly employed for studying Ca2+ signaling in skeletal muscle; however, the lack of information on the Ca2+-Mag-Fluo-4 reaction limits its wider usage.

Methods: Fluorescence and isothermal titration calorimetry (ITC) experiments were performed to determine the binding stoichiometry (n) and thermodynamics (enthalpy (ΔH) and entropy (ΔS) changes), as well as the in vitro and in situ Kd of the Ca2+-Mag-Fluo-4 reaction. Rate constants (kon, koff), fluorescence maximum (Fmax), minimum (Fmin), and the dye compartmentalization were also estimated. Experiments in cells used enzymatically dissociated flexor digitorum brevis fibres of C57BL6, adult mice, loaded at room temperature for 8 min, with 6 μM Mag-Fluo-4, AM, and permeabilized with saponin or ionomycin. All measurements were done at 20 °C.

Results: The in vitro fluorescence assays showed a binding stoichiometry of 0.5 for the Ca2+/Mag-Fluo-4 (n = 5) reaction. ITC results (n = 3) provided ΔH and ΔS values of 2.3 (0.7) kJ/mol and 97.8 (5.9) J/mol.K, respectively. The in situ Kd was 1.652 × 105μM2(n = 58 fibres, R2 = 0.99). With an Fmax of 150.9 (8.8) A.U. (n = 8), Fmin of 0.14 (0.1) A.U. (n = 10), and ΔF of Ca2+ transients of 8.4 (2.5) A.U. (n = 10), the sarcoplasmic [Ca2+]peak reached 22.5 (7.8) μM. Compartmentalized dye amounted to only 1.1 (0.7)% (n = 10).

Conclusions: Two Mag-Fluo-4 molecules coalesce around one Ca2+ ion, in an entropy-driven, very low in situ affinity reaction, making it suitable to reliably track the kinetics of rapid muscle Ca2+ transients.

General significance: Our results may be relevant to the quantitative study of Ca2+ kinetics in many other cell types.

Keywords: Ca(2+); Calibration; Dyes; Enthalpy; Entropy; Fluorescence; Isothermal titration calorimetry; Skeletal muscle; Stoichiometry.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Calcium / metabolism*
  • Fluorescent Dyes / chemistry
  • Fluorescent Dyes / metabolism*
  • Fura-2 / analogs & derivatives*
  • Fura-2 / chemistry
  • Fura-2 / metabolism
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Muscle, Skeletal / chemistry
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism*
  • Thermodynamics


  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • 2-(2-(5-carboxy)oxazole)-5-hydroxy-6-aminobenzofuran-N,N,O-triacetic acid
  • Calcium
  • Fura-2