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Biophys J. 1994 Nov;67(5):2076-89.

Free calcium concentrations in bullfrog rods determined in the presence of multiple forms of Fura-2.

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Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of California, Berkeley 94720-3200.


We employed the fluorescent calcium indicator Fura-2, loaded into intact retinas of the bullfrog Rana catesbeiana, to measure free calcium concentrations in the rod outer-segment cytosol. We determined that traditional methods of calculation yielded erroneous values of calcium. This error results from the presence of at least two distinct pools of Fura-2 in rod outer segments. Application of manganese quenches each pool, but quenching occurs at different rates. Using this fact, we show that the pools can be isolated by brief exposure to manganese and examined separately. One of these pools has the same fluorescent properties as the free salt of Fura-2 we use in our in vitro calibrations. The other source of fluorescence has more unusual properties. Although insensitive to calcium concentrations in the physiological range, it contributes significant anomalous fluorescence when cytosolic free calcium concentrations are elevated by application of IBMX. Nevertheless, the experimentally isolated, classic pool of Fura-2 is well behaved and allows us to calculate calcium concentrations relative to the Kd of Fura-2 by the usual ratio method. We show that when rods are exposed to saturating light, the free calcium concentration in their outer segments falls to a level not significantly different from zero within 20-30 s.

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