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Cell Calcium. 2004 Jun;35(6):523-33.

Imaging calcium entering the cytosol through a single opening of plasma membrane ion channels: SCCaFTs--fundamental calcium events.

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Department of Physiology and Biomedical Imaging Group, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, MA 01655, USA.


Recently, it has become possible to record the localized fluorescence transient associated with the opening of a single plasma membrane Ca(2+) permeable ion channel using Ca(2+) indicators like fluo-3. These Single Channel Ca(2+) Fluorescence Transients (SCCaFTs) share some of the characteristics of such elementary events as Ca(2+) sparks and Ca(2+) puffs caused by Ca(2+) release from intracellular stores (due to the opening of ryanodine receptors and IP(3) receptors, respectively). In contrast to intracellular Ca(2+) release events, SCCaFTs can be observed while simultaneously recording the unitary channel currents using patch-clamp techniques to verify the channel openings. Imaging SCCaFTs provides a way to examine localized Ca(2+) handling in the vicinity of a channel with a known Ca(2+) influx, to obtain the Ca(2+) current passing through plasma membrane cation channels in near physiological solutions, to localize Ca(2+) permeable ion channels on the plasma membrane, and to estimate the Ca(2+) currents underlying those elementary events where the Ca(2+) currents cannot be recorded. Here we review studies of these fluorescence transients associated with caffeine-activated channels, L-type Ca(2+) channels, and stretch-activated channels. For the L-type Ca(2+) channel, SCCaFTs have been termed sparklets. In addition, we discuss how SCCaFTs have been used to estimate Ca(2+) currents using the rate of rise of the fluorescence transient as well as the signal mass associated with the total fluorescence increase.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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