Send to

Choose Destination
J Neurochem. 2009 Aug;110(3):990-1004. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-4159.2009.06194.x. Epub 2009 May 29.

Real-time visualization of cytoplasmic calpain activation and calcium deregulation in acute glutamate excitotoxicity.

Author information

Buck Institute for Age Research, Novato, California 94945, USA.


Although calpain (EC 3.4.22) protease activation was suggested to contribute to excitotoxic delayed calcium deregulation (DCD) via proteolysis of Na+/Ca2+ exchanger 3 (NCX3), cytoplasmic calpain activation in relation to DCD has never been visualized in real-time. We employed a calpain fluorescence resonance energy transfer substrate to simultaneously image calpain activation and calcium deregulation in live cortical neurons. A calpain inhibitor-sensitive decline in fluorescence resonance energy transfer was observed at 39 +/- 5 min after the occurrence of DCD in neurons exposed to continuous glutamate (100 microM). Inhibition of calpain by calpeptin did not delay the onset of DCD, recovery from DCD-like reversible calcium elevations, or cell death despite inhibiting alpha-spectrin processing by > 90%. NCXs reversed during glutamate exposure, the NCX antagonist KB-R7943 prolonged the time to DCD, and significant NCX3 cleavage following 90 min of glutamate exposure was not observed. Our findings suggest that robust calpain activation associated with acute glutamate toxicity occurs only after a sustained loss in calcium homeostasis. Processing of NCX3 or other calpain substrates is unlikely to be the primary cause of acute excitotoxicity in cortical neurons. However, a role for calpain as a contributing factor or in response to milder glutamate insults is not excluded.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Wiley Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center