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J Cell Biol. 1999 Nov 29;147(5):929-36.

Morphological control of inositol-1,4,5-trisphosphate-dependent signals.

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Department of Physiology, University of Connecticut Health Center, Farmington, Connecticut 06030, USA.


Inositol-1,4,5-trisphosphate (InsP(3))-mediated calcium signals represent an important mechanism for transmitting external stimuli to the cell. However, information about intracellular spatial patterns of InsP(3) itself is not generally available. In particular, it has not been determined how the interplay of InsP(3) generation, diffusion, and degradation within complex cellular geometries can control the patterns of InsP(3) signaling. Here, we explore the spatial and temporal characteristics of [InsP(3)](cyt) during a bradykinin-induced calcium wave in a neuroblastoma cell. This is achieved by using a unique image-based computer modeling system, Virtual Cell, to integrate experimental data on the rates and spatial distributions of the key molecular components of the process. We conclude that the characteristic calcium dynamics requires rapid, high-amplitude production of [InsP(3)](cyt) in the neurite. This requisite InsP(3) spatiotemporal profile is provided, in turn, as an intrinsic consequence of the cell's morphology, demonstrating how geometry can locally and dramatically intensify cytosolic signals that originate at the plasma membrane. In addition, the model predicts, and experiments confirm, that stimulation of just the neurite, but not the soma or growth cone, is sufficient to generate a calcium response throughout the cell.

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