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J Neurosci. 1988 Sep;8(9):3240-6.

The concentration of cytosolic free calcium in vertebrate rod outer segments measured with fura-2.

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  • 1Department of Biophysics and Medical Physics, University of California, Berkeley 94720.


The use of fluorescent indicators such as fura-2 (Grynkiewicz et al., 1985) to measure the cytosolic free calcium activity in retinal rods is complicated by the rods' sensitivity both to the fluorescence and to the light that excites it. By stimulating fluorescence from large numbers of rods in whole, loaded retinas and averaging repeated measurements, however, we have been able to monitor changes in free [Ca2+]i during exposure to nonsaturating lights under physiological conditions. Retinas, isolated from the bullfrog Rana catesbeiana, were loaded with fura-2 by incubation and mounted, receptor-side up, in a perfusion chamber placed on the stage of a specially designed apparatus. A step of light delivered from above, whose wavelength alternated between 340 and 380 nm every 110 msec, excited fluorescence from 24 mm2 of retina and evoked a light response (the aspartate-isolated pIII component of the electroretinogram--ERG). By comparing the fluorescence intensities excited by the 2 wavelengths (corrected for background and dark-noise), the free [Ca2+]i of the rod outer segment was determined. In darkness, the [Ca2+]i of the outer segment was found to be approximately 220 nM. A bright light caused it to fall exponentially to approximately 140 nM, with a time constant of approximately 1.6 sec. The value of [Ca2+]i at the onset of illumination was independent of stimulus intensity over a 2 log-unit range, and in all cases the fall was monotonic. After terminating the illumination, [Ca2+]i rose again to its time-zero value.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

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