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J Biol Chem. 2003 Jun 6;278(23):20860-4. Epub 2003 Mar 25.

Long distance communication between muscarinic receptors and Ca2+ release channels revealed by carbachol uncaging in cell-attached patch pipette.

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Medical Research Council Secretory Control Research Group, The Physiological Laboratory, University of Liverpool, Liverpool L69 3BX, United Kingdom.


We have investigated the characteristics of cytosolic Ca2+ signals induced by muscarinic receptor activation of pancreatic acinar cells that reside within intact pancreatic tissue. We show that these cells exhibit global Ca2+ waves and local apical Ca2+ spikes. This is the first evidence for local Ca2+ signaling in undissociated pancreatic tissue. The mechanism of formation of localized Ca2+ signals was examined using a novel approach involving photolysis of caged carbachol inside a patch pipette attached to the basal surface of an acinar unit. This local activation of basal muscarinic receptors elicited local cytosolic Ca2+ spikes in the apical pole more than 15 microm away from the site of stimulation. In some experiments, local basal receptor activation elicited a Ca2+ wave that started in the apical pole and then spread toward the base. Currently, there are two competing hypotheses for preferential apical Ca2+ signaling. One invokes the need for structural proximity of the cholinergic receptors and the Ca2+ release channels in the apical pole, whereas the other postulates long distance communication between basal receptors and the channels. Our intrapipette uncaging experiments provide definitive evidence for long distance communication between basal muscarinic receptors and apical Ca2+ release channels.

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