A comparison of measurements of intracellular Ca by Ca electrode and optical indicators

J. Requena, J. Whittembury, T. Tiffert, D. A. Eisner, L. J. Mullins

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    Squid giant axons were injected with aequorin or arsenazo III and impaled with a Ca-sensing electrode. The light output of aequorin or the spectrophotometer output when measuring arsenazo was compared with the voltage output of the electrode when the squid axon was depolarized with high-K solutions, when the seawater was made Na-free, or when the axon was tetanized for several minutes. The results from these treatments were that the optical response rose (as much as 50-fold) with all treatments known to increase Ca entry, while the electrode remained unaffected by these treatments. If axons previously subjected to Ca load are treated with electron-transport poisons such as CN, it is known that [Ca]i rises after a time necessary to deplete ATP stores. In such axons one expects a rise of [Ca]i in axoplasm which does not necessarily have to be uniform although the source of such Ca is the mitochondria and these are uniformly distributed in axoplasm. Under conditions of CN application, the optical signals from aequorin or arsenazo and Ca electrode output do rise together when [Ca]i is high, but there is a region of [Ca]i concentration where aequorin light output or arsenazo absorbance rises while electrode output does not. Axons not loaded with Ca but injected with apyrase and vanadate have mitochondria that still retain some Ca and this can be released by CN in a truly uniform manner. The results show that such a release (which is small) can be readily measured with aequorin, but again the Ca electrode is insensitive to such [Ca]i change. © 1984.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)393-404
    Number of pages11
    JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta - Molecular Cell Research
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 11 Dec 1984


    • (Squid axon)
    • Aequorin
    • Arsenazo III
    • Ca assay
    • Ca electrode
    • Optical indicator


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