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Nat Cell Biol. 2005 May;7(5):525-30. Epub 2005 Apr 17.

Uncontrolled calcium sparks act as a dystrophic signal for mammalian skeletal muscle.

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Department of Physiology and Biophysics, UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, 675 Hoes Lane, Piscataway, NJ 08854, USA.


Most excitable cells maintain tight control of intracellular Ca(2+) through coordinated interaction between plasma membrane and endoplasmic or sarcoplasmic reticulum. Quiescent sarcoplasmic reticulum Ca(2+) release machinery is essential for the survival and normal function of skeletal muscle. Here we show that subtle membrane deformations induce Ca(2+) sparks in intact mammalian skeletal muscle. Spontaneous Ca(2+) sparks can be reversibly induced by osmotic shock, and participate in a normal physiological response to exercise. In dystrophic muscle with fragile membrane integrity, stress-induced Ca(2+) sparks are essentially irreversible. Moreover, moderate exercise in mdx muscle alters the Ca(2+) spark response. Thus, membrane-deformation-induced Ca(2+) sparks have an important role in physiological and pathophysiological regulation of Ca(2+) signalling, and uncontrolled Ca(2+) spark activity in connection with chronic activation of store-operated Ca(2+) entry may function as a dystrophic signal in mammalian skeletal muscle.

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