An algorithm for the calculation of Ca2+ release flux underlying Ca2+ sparks (Blatter, L.A.,J. Huser, and E. Rios. 1997. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA. 94:4176-4181) was modified and applied to sparks obtained by confocal microscopy in single frog skeletal muscle fibers, which were voltage clamped in a two-Vaseline gap chamber or permeabilized and immersed in fluo- 3-containing internal solution. The performance of the algorithm was characterized on sparks obtained by simulation of fluorescence due to release of Ca2+ from a spherical source, in a homogeneous three-dimensional space that contained components representing cytoplasmic molecules and Ga2+ removal processes. Total release current, as well as source diameter and noise level, was varied in the simulations. Derived release flux or current, calculated by volume integration of the derived flux density, estimated quite closely the current used in the simulation, while full width at half magnitude of the derived release flux was a good monitor of source size only at diameters >0.7 μm. On an average of 157 sparks of amplitude >2 U resting fluorescence, located automatically in a representative voltage clamp experiment, the algorithm reported a release current of 16.9 pA, coming from a source of 0.5 μm, with an open time of 6.3 ms. Fewer sparks were obtained in permeabilized fibers, so that the algorithm had to be applied to individual sparks or averages of few events, which degraded its performance in comparable tests. The average current reported for 19 large sparks obtained in permeabilized fibers was 14.4 pA. A minimum estimate, derived from the rate of change of dye-bound Ga2+ concentration, was 8 pA. Such a current would require simultaneous opening of between 8 and 60 release channels with unitary Ga2+ currents of the level recorded in bilayer experiments. Real sparks differ from simulated ones mainly in having greater width. Correspondingly, the algorithm reported greater spatial extent of the source for real sparks. This may again indicate a multichannel origin of sparks, or could reflect limitations in spatial resolution.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Computer algorithm
- Confocal microscopy
- Excitation-contraction coupling
- Sarcoplasmic reticulum