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Biophys J. 1996 Feb;70(2):896-916.

Properties of tri- and tetracarboxylate Ca2+ indicators in frog skeletal muscle fibers.

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


Recently a number of lower-affinity fluorescent Ca2+ indicators have become available with principal absorbance bands at visible wavelengths. This article evaluates these indicators, as well as two shorter wavelength indicators, mag-fura-5 and mag-indo-1, for their suitability as rapid Ca2+ indicators in frog skeletal muscle fibers. With three lower-affinity tricarboxylate indicators (mag-fura-5, mag-indo-1, and magnesium orange), the change in fluorescence in response to an action potential (delta F) appeared to track the myoplasmic Ca2+ transient (delta[Ca2+]) without delay. With three lower-affinity tetracarboxylate indicators (BTC, calcium-orange-5N, and calcium-green-5N) and one tricarboxylate indicator (magnesium green), delta F responded to delta[Ca2+] with a small delay. Unfortunately, with the tetracarboxylate indicators, other problems were detected that appear to limit their usefulness as reliable Ca2+ indicators. Surprisingly, delta F from mag-fura-red, another tricarboxylate indicator, was biphasic (with 480 nm excitation), a feature that also greatly limits its usefulness. With several of the indicators, estimates were obtained for the myoplasmic value of KD, Ca (the indicator's dissociation constant for Ca2+) and found to be elevated severalfold in comparison with the value measured in a simple salt solution. These and other problems related to the quantitative use of Ca2+ indicators in the intracellular environment are evaluated and discussed.

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