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Biophys J. 1993 Aug;65(2):865-81.

Resting myoplasmic free calcium in frog skeletal muscle fibers estimated with fluo-3.

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Department of Physiology, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia 19104-6085.


Fluo-3 is an unusual tetracarboxylate Ca2+ indicator. For recent lots supplied by Molecular Probes Inc. (Eugene, OR), FMAX, the fluorescence intensity of the indicator in its Ca(2+)-bound form, is approximately 200 times that of FMIN, the fluorescence intensity of the indicator in its Ca(2+)-free form. (For earlier lots, impurities may account for the smaller reported values of FMAX/FMIN, 36-40). We have injected fluo-3 from a high-purity lot into intact single fibers from frog muscle and measured the indicator's absorbance and fluorescence signals at rest (A and F, respectively) and changes in absorbance and fluorescence following action potential stimulation (delta A and delta F signals substantially lagged behind that of the myoplasmic free Ca2+ transient. Our analysis of fluo-3's signals from myoplasm therefore focused on information about the level of resting myoplasmic free [Ca2+] ([Ca2+]r). From A, delta A, and in vitro estimates of fluo-3's molar extinction coefficients, the change in the fraction of fluo-3 in the Ca(2+)-bound form during activity (delta f) was estimated. From delta f, delta F, and F, the fraction of the indicator in the Ca(2+)-bound form in the resting fiber (fr) was estimated by fr = (delta f x F/delta F) + (1-FMAX/FMIN)-1. Since FMAX/FMIN is large, the contribution of the second term to the estimate of fr is small. At 16 degrees C, the mean value (mean +/- S.E.) of fr was 0.086 +/- 0.004 (N = 15). From two estimates of the apparent dissociation constant of fluo-3 for Ca2+ in the myoplasm, 1.09 and 2.57 microM, the average value of [Ca2+]r is calculated to be 0.10 and 0.24 microM, respectively. The smaller of these estimates lies near the upper end of the range of values for [Ca2+]r in frog fibers (0.02-0.12 microM) estimated by others with aequorin and Ca(2+)-selective electrodes. The larger of the estimates lies within the range of values (0.2-0.3 microM) previously estimated in this laboratory with fura red. We conclude that [Ca2+]r in frog fibers is at least 0.1 microM and possibly as large as 0.3 microM.

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