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Biophys J. 2002 Dec;83(6):3134-51.

Spatiotemporal features of Ca2+ buffering and diffusion in atrial cardiac myocytes with inhibited sarcoplasmic reticulum.

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Department of Physiology, University of Bern, Buehlplatz 5, CH-3012 Bern, Switzerland.


Ca(2+) signaling in cells is largely governed by Ca(2+) diffusion and Ca(2+) binding to mobile and stationary Ca(2+) buffers, including organelles. To examine Ca(2+) signaling in cardiac atrial myocytes, a mathematical model of Ca(2+) diffusion was developed which represents several subcellular compartments, including a subsarcolemmal space with restricted diffusion, a myofilament space, and the cytosol. The model was used to quantitatively simulate experimental Ca(2+) signals in terms of amplitude, time course, and spatial features. For experimental reference data, L-type Ca(2+) currents were recorded from atrial cells with the whole-cell voltage-clamp technique. Ca(2+) signals were simultaneously imaged with the fluorescent Ca(2+) indicator Fluo-3 and a laser-scanning confocal microscope. The simulations indicate that in atrial myocytes lacking T-tubules, Ca(2+) movement from the cell membrane to the center of the cells relies strongly on the presence of mobile Ca(2+) buffers, particularly when the sarcoplasmic reticulum is inhibited pharmacologically. Furthermore, during the influx of Ca(2+) large and steep concentration gradients are predicted between the cytosol and the submicroscopically narrow subsarcolemmal space. In addition, the computations revealed that, despite its low Ca(2+) affinity, ATP acts as a significant buffer and carrier for Ca(2+), even at the modest elevations of [Ca(2+)](i) reached during influx of Ca(2+).

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