Calcium transients and the effect of a photolytically released calcium chelator during electrically induced contractions in rabbit rectococcygeus smooth muscle

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Intracellular Ca2+ was determined with the fura-2 technique during electrically induced contractions in the rabbit rectococcygeus smooth muscle at 22 degreesC. The muscles were electrically activated to give short, reproducible contractions. Intracellular [Ca2+] increased during activation; the increase in [Ca2+] preceded force development by approximately 2 s. After cessation of stimulation Ca2+ fell, preceding the fall in force by approximately 4 s. The fluorescence properties of fura-2 were determined with time-resolved spectroscopy using synchrotron light at the MAX-storage ring, Lund, Sweden. The fluorescence decay of free fura-2 was best described by two exponential decays (time constants approximately 0.5 and 1.5 ns) at low Ca2+ (pCa 9). At high Ca2+ (pCa 4.5), fluorescence decay became slower and could be fitted by one exponential decay (1.9 ns). Time-resolved anisotropy of free fura-2 was characteristic of free rotational motion (correlation time 0.3 ns). Motion of fura-2 could be markedly inhibited by high concentrations of creatine kinase. Time-resolved spectroscopy measurements of muscle fibers loaded with fura-2 showed that the fluorescence lifetime of the probe was longer, suggesting an influence of the chemical environment. Anisotropy measurements revealed, however, that the probe was mobile in the cells. The Ca2+-dependence of contraction and relaxation was studied using a photolabile calcium chelator, diazo-2, which could be loaded into the muscle cells in a similar manner as fura-2. Photolysis of diazo-2 leads to an increase in its Ca2+-affinity and a fall in free Ca2+. When muscles that had been loaded with diazo-2 were illuminated with UV light flashes during the rising phase of contraction, the rate of contraction became slower, suggesting a close relation between intracellular Ca2+ and the cross-bridge interaction. In contrast, photolysis during relaxation did not influence the rate of force decay, suggesting that relaxation of these contractions is not determined by the rate of Ca2+ removal or due to an increased Ca2+ sensitivity, but instead is limited by other processes such as deactivation by dephosphorylation or detachment of tension-bearing cross-bridges, possibly regulated by thin filament systems.


  • Anders Arner
  • Ulf Malmqvist
  • Rudolf Rigler
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Biophysics
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1895-1903
JournalBiophysical Journal
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1998
Publication categoryResearch