Location of the initiation site of calcium transients and sparks in rabbit heart Purkinje cells

JM Cordeiro, KW Spitzer, WR Giles, PE Ershler, MB Cannell, JHB Bridge

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

101 Citations (Scopus)


1. The distribution and localization of Ca2+ transients and Ca2+ sparks in isolated adult rabbit Purkinje cells were examined using confocal microscopy and the Ca2+ indicator fluo-3.2. When cells were field stimulated in 2.0 mM Ca2+ buffer, a transverse confocal line scan (500 Hz) showed that the fluorescence intensity was greatest at the cell periphery during the onset of the Ca2+ transient ([Ca2+](i)). In contrast, the [Ca2+](i) of ventricular cells showed a more uniform pattern of activation across the cell. Staining with di-8-ANEPPS revealed that Purkinje cells lack t-tubules, whereas ventricular cells have an extensive t-tubular system.3. When we superfused both cell types with a buffer containing 5 mar Ca2+-1 muM isoproterenol (isoprenaline) they produced Ca2+ sparks spontaneously. Ca2+ sparks occurred only at the periphery of Purkinje cells but occurred throughout ventricular cells. Sparks in both cell types could be completely abolished by addition of the SR inhibitor thapsigargin (500 nM). Brief exposure to nifedipine (10 muM) did not reduce the number of spontaneous sparks.4. Immunofluorescence staining of Purkinje cells with anti-ryanodine antibody revealed that ryanodine receptors (RyRs) are present at both peripheral and central locations.5. Computer simulations of experiments in which the calcium transient was evoked by voltage clamp depolarizations suggested that the increase in calcium observed in the centre of the cell could be explained by simple buffered diffusion of calcium. These computations suggested that the RyRs deep within the cell do not contribute significantly to the calcium transient.6. These results provide the first detailed, spatially resolved data describing Ca2+ transients and Ca2+ sparks in rabbit cardiac Purkinje cells. Both types of events are initiated only at subsarcolemmal SR Ca2+ release sites suggesting that in Purkinje cells, Ca2+ sparks only originate where the sarcolemma and sarcoplasmic reticulum form junctions. The role of the centrally located RyRs remains unclear. It is possible that because of the lack of t-tubules these RyRs do not experience a sufficiently large Ca2+ trigger during excitation-contraction (E-C) coupling to become active.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)301-314
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Physiology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2001


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