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EMBO J. Apr 1, 1997; 16(7): 1575–1581.
PMCID: PMC1169761

Domains of high Ca2+ beneath the plasma membrane of living A7r5 cells.


Theoretical models and indirect experimental observations predict that Ca2+ concentrations at the inner surface of the plasma membrane may reach, upon stimulation, values much higher than those of the bulk cytosol. In the past few years, we have shown that the Ca2+-sensitive photoprotein aequorin can be intracellularly targeted and utilized for specifically monitoring the [Ca2+] of various organelles. In this work, we extend this approach to the study of the cytoplasmic rim beneath the plasma membrane. We have constructed a new aequorin chimera by fusing the photoprotein with SNAP-25, a neuronal protein which is recruited to the plasma membrane after the post-translational addition of a lipid anchor. The SNAP-25-aequorin chimera, expressed in the rat aortic smooth muscle cell line A7r5, appears correctly sorted as revealed by immunocytochemistry. Using this probe, we demonstrate that the mean [Ca2+] of this cytoplasmic region ([Ca2+]pm) can reach values >10-fold higher than those of the bulk cytosol ([Ca2+]c) upon activation of Ca2+ influx through plasma membrane channels. In unstimulated cells, the mean [Ca2+]pm appears also to be higher than the bulk cytosol, presumably reflecting the existence of microdomains of high [Ca2+].

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Selected References

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