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, 318 (6046), 558-61

Calcium Gradients in Single Smooth Muscle Cells Revealed by the Digital Imaging Microscope Using Fura-2

Calcium Gradients in Single Smooth Muscle Cells Revealed by the Digital Imaging Microscope Using Fura-2

D A Williams et al. Nature.

Abstract

Calcium is believed to control a variety of cellular processes, often with a high degree of spatial and temporal precision. For a cell to use Ca2+ in this manner, mechanisms must exist for controlling the ion in a localized fashion. We have now gained insight into such mechanisms from studies which measured Ca2+ in single living cells with high resolution using a digital imaging microscope and the highly fluorescent Ca2+-sensitive dye, Fura-2. Levels of Ca2+ in the cytoplasm, nucleus and sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR) are clearly different. Free [Ca2+] in the nucleus and SR was greater than in the cytoplasm and these gradients were abolished by Ca2+ ionophores. When external Ca2+ was raised above normal in the absence of ionophores, free cytoplasmic Ca2+ increased but nuclear Ca2+ did not. Thus, nuclear [Ca2+] appears to be regulated independently of cytoplasmic [Ca2+] by gating mechanisms in the nuclear envelope. The observed regulation of intranuclear Ca2+ in these contractile cells may thus be seen as a way to prevent fluctuation in Ca2+-linked nuclear processes during the rise in cytoplasmic [Ca2+] which triggers contraction. The approach described here offers the opportunity of following changes in Ca2+ in cellular compartments in response to a wide range of stimuli, allowing new insights into the role of local changes in Ca2+ in the regulation of cell function.

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