Buffering of calcium in the vicinity of a channel pore

  • Stern M
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The function of calcium entry or release channels is often modulated by the cytosolic free calcium concentration. When such channels are studied in isolation, calcium buffer solutions are usually used to control the free calcium at the cytosolic face of the channel. Such solutions are generally formulated on the basis of equilibrium considerations. We calculate the gradlent of [Ca2+] in the vicinity of a channel pore, in the presence of such buffers. We find that the effective degree of buffering near the pore is markedly affected by kinetic considerations. Commonly used EGTA solutions are completely ineffective in buffering [Ca2+] within macromolecular distances of the pore. In order to achieve useful buffering, the fastest buffers (e.g. BAPTA derivatives) must be used, in concentrations very much higher than those conventionally employed. Because of the diffusion limit on the maximum rate of binding of calcium to the buffer ligand, it is physically impossible to achieve good control of [Ca2+] at cytosolic levels at distances of less than a few nm from a pore conducting pico-ampere calcium current. © 1992.

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  • M. D. Stern

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