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Am J Physiol Cell Physiol. 2013 Sep;305(5):C568-77. doi: 10.1152/ajpcell.00381.2011. Epub 2013 Jun 26.

Regulation of L-type calcium channel sparklet activity by c-Src and PKC-α.

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Department of Biological Engineering University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri, USA.


The activity of persistent Ca²⁺ sparklets, which are characterized by longer and more frequent channel open events than low-activity sparklets, contributes substantially to steady-state Ca²⁺ entry under physiological conditions. Here, we addressed two questions related to the regulation of Ca²⁺ sparklets by PKC-α and c-Src, both of which increase whole cell Cav1.2 current: 1) Does c-Src activation enhance persistent Ca²⁺ sparklet activity? 2) Does PKC-α activate c-Src to produce persistent Ca²⁺ sparklets? With the use of total internal reflection fluorescence microscopy, Ca²⁺ sparklets were recorded from voltage-clamped tsA-201 cells coexpressing wild-type (WT) or mutant Cav1.2c (the neuronal isoform of Cav1.2) constructs ± active or inactive PKC-α/c-Src. Cells expressing Cav1.2c exhibited both low-activity and persistent Ca²⁺ sparklets. Persistent Ca²⁺ sparklet activity was significantly reduced by acute application of the c-Src inhibitor PP2 or coexpression of kinase-dead c-Src. Cav1.2c constructs mutated at one of two COOH-terminal residues (Y²¹²²F and Y²¹³⁹F) were used to test the effect of blocking putative phosphorylation sites for c-Src. Expression of Y²¹²²F but not Y²¹³⁹F Cav1.2c abrogated the potentiating effect of c-Src on Ca²⁺ sparklet activity. We could not detect a significant change in persistent Ca²⁺ sparklet activity or density in cells coexpressing Cav1.2c + PKC-α, regardless of whether WT or Y²¹²²F Cav1.2c was used, or after PP2 application, suggesting that PKC-α does not act upstream of c-Src to produce persistent Ca²⁺ sparklets. However, our results indicate that persistent Ca²⁺ sparklet activity is promoted by the action of c-Src on residue Y²¹²² of the Cav1.2c COOH terminus.


L-type calcium channel; PKC; TIRF microscopy; calcium entry; patch clamp

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