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Neuron. 1995 Jun;14(6):1233-46.

Characterization of spontaneous calcium transients in nerve growth cones and their effect on growth cone migration.

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  • 1University of Minnesota, Department of Cell Biology and Neuroanatomy, Minneapolis 55455, USA.


This study examines the mechanisms of spontaneous and induced [Ca2+]i spiking in nerve growth cones and the effect of spikes on growth cone migration. Over a 10-20 min observation period, 29% of DRG growth cones undergo spontaneous and transient elevations in physiological extracellular Ca2+ ((Ca2+)o; 2 mM), whereas 67% of growth cones exposed to 20 mM (Ca2+)o exhibit similar [Ca2+]i spikes. Spontaneous [Ca2+]i spiking was not observed in neuronal cell bodies or nonneuronal cells. Ca2+ influx through non-voltage-gated Ca2+ channels was required for spontaneous [Ca2+]i spikes in growth cones, since removal of (Ca2+)o, or addition of the general Ca2+ channel blockers La3+ or Ni2+, reversibly blocked [Ca2+]i spiking, while blockers of the voltage-gated Ca2+ channels did not. Experiments using agents that influence intracellular Ca2+ stores suggest that Ca2+ stores may buffer and release Ca2+ during growth cone [Ca2+]i spikes. Growth cone migration was immediately and transiently inhibited by [Ca2+]i spikes, but eventually returned to prespike rates.

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