Reversible Ca gradients between the subplasmalemma and cytosol differentially activate Ca-dependent Cl currents

Khaled Machaca, H. Criss Hartzell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

34 Citations (Scopus)


Xenopus oocytes express several different Ca-activated Cl currents that have different waveforms and biophysical properties. We compared the stimulation of Ca-activated Cl currents measured by two-microelectrode voltage clamp with the Ca transients measured in tile same celt by confocal microscopy and Ca-sensitive fluorophores. The purpose was to determine how the amplitude and/or spatio-temporal features of the Ca signal might explain how these different Cl currents were activated by Ca. Because Ca release from stores was voltage independent, whereas Ca influx depended upon the electrochemical driving force, we were able to separately assess the contribution of Ca from these two sources. We were surprised to find that Ca signals measured with a cytosolic Ca-sensitive dye, dextran-conjugated Ca- green-1, correlated poorly with Cl currents. This suggested that Cl channels located at the plasma membrane and the Ca-sensitive dye located in the bulk cytosol were sensing different [Ca]. This was true despite Ca measurement in a confocal slice very close to the plasma membrane. In contrast, a membrane- targeted Ca-sensitive dye (Ca-green-C18) reported a Ca signal that correlated much more closely with the Cl currents. We hypothesize that very local, transient, reversible Ca gradients develop between the subplasmalemmal space and the bulk cytosol. [Ca] is higher near the plasma membrane when Ca is provided by Ca influx, whereas the gradient is reversed when Ca is released from stores, because Ca efflux across the plasma membrane is faster than diffusion of Ca from the bulk cytosol to the subplasmalemmal space. Because dissipation of the gradients is accelerated by inhibition of Ca sequestration into the endoplasmic reticulum with thapsigargin, we conclude that [Ca] in the bulk cytosol declines slowly partly due to futile recycling of Ca through the endoplasmic reticulum.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)249-266
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of General Physiology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 1999


  • Calcium imaging
  • Oocyte
  • Store-operated Ca entry
  • Voltage clamp
  • Xenopus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology

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