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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2008 Jul 15;105(28):9627-32. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0801963105. Epub 2008 Jul 9.

Functional architecture of inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate signaling in restricted spaces of myoendothelial projections.

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Department of Pharmacology, College of Medicine, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT 05405, USA.


Calcium (Ca(2+)) release through inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate receptors (IP(3)Rs) regulates the function of virtually every mammalian cell. Unlike ryanodine receptors, which generate local Ca(2+) events ("sparks") that transmit signals to the juxtaposed cell membrane, a similar functional architecture has not been reported for IP(3)Rs. Here, we have identified spatially fixed, local Ca(2+) release events ("pulsars") in vascular endothelial membrane domains that project through the internal elastic lamina to adjacent smooth muscle membranes. Ca(2+) pulsars are mediated by IP(3)Rs in the endothelial endoplasmic reticulum of these membrane projections. Elevation of IP(3) by the endothelium-dependent vasodilator, acetylcholine, increased the frequency of Ca(2+) pulsars, whereas blunting IP(3) production, blocking IP(3)Rs, or depleting endoplasmic reticulum Ca(2+) inhibited these events. The elementary properties of Ca(2+) pulsars were distinct from ryanodine-receptor-mediated Ca(2+) sparks in smooth muscle and from IP(3)-mediated Ca(2+) puffs in Xenopus oocytes. The intermediate conductance, Ca(2+)-sensitive potassium (K(Ca)3.1) channel also colocalized to the endothelial projections, and blockage of this channel caused an 8-mV depolarization. Inhibition of Ca(2+) pulsars also depolarized to a similar extent, and blocking K(Ca)3.1 channels was without effect in the absence of pulsars. Our results support a mechanism of IP(3) signaling in which Ca(2+) release is spatially restricted to transmit intercellular signals.

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