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J Gen Physiol. 1999 Feb;113(2):267-77.

Light-dependent changes in outer segment free-Ca2+ concentration in salamander cone photoreceptors.

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  • 1Department of Physiological Science, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California 90095, USA.


Simultaneous measurements of photocurrent and outer segment Ca2+ were made from isolated salamander cone photoreceptors. While recording the photocurrent from the inner segment, which was drawn into a suction pipette, a laser spot confocal technique was employed to evoke fluorescence from the outer segment of a cone loaded with the Ca2+ indicator fluo-3. When a dark-adapted cone was exposed to the intense illumination of the laser, the circulating current was completely suppressed and fluo-3 fluorescence rapidly declined. In the more numerous red-sensitive cones this light-induced decay in fluo-3 fluorescence was best fitted as the sum of two decaying exponentials with time constants of 43 +/- 2.4 and 640 +/- 55 ms (mean +/- SEM, n = 25) and unequal amplitudes: the faster component was 1.7-fold larger than the slower. In blue-sensitive cones, the decay in fluorescence was slower, with time constants of 140 +/- 30 and 1,400 +/- 300 ms, and nearly equal amplitudes. Calibration of fluo-3 fluorescence in situ from red-sensitive cones allowed the calculation of the free-Ca2+ concentration, yielding values of 410 +/- 37 nM in the dark-adapted outer segment and 5.5 +/- 2.4 nM after saturating illumination (mean +/- SEM, n = 8). Photopigment bleaching by the laser resulted in a considerable reduction in light sensitivity and a maintained decrease in outer segment Ca2+ concentration. When the photopigment was regenerated by applying exogenous 11-cis-retinal, both the light sensitivity and fluo-3 fluorescence recovered rapidly to near dark-adapted levels. Regeneration of the photopigment allowed repeated measurements of fluo-3 fluorescence to be made from a single red-sensitive cone during adaptation to steady light over a range of intensities. These measurements demonstrated that the outer segment Ca2+ concentration declines in a graded manner during adaptation to background light, varying linearly with the magnitude of the circulating current.

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