Ca2+ channel nanodomains boost local Ca2+ amplitude.
Local Ca(2+) signals through voltage-gated Ca(2+) channels (CaVs) drive synaptic transmission, neural plasticity, and cardiac contraction. Despite the importance of these events, the fundamental relationship between flux through a single CaV channel and the Ca(2+) signaling concentration within nanometers of its pore has resisted empirical determination, owing to limitations in the spatial resolution and specificity of fluorescence-based Ca(2+) measurements. Here, we exploited Ca(2+)-dependent inactivation of CaV channels as a nanometer-range Ca(2+) indicator specific to active channels. We observed an unexpected and dramatic boost in nanodomain Ca(2+) amplitude, ten-fold higher than predicted on theoretical grounds. Our results uncover a striking feature of CaV nanodomains, as diffusion-restricted environments that amplify small Ca(2+) fluxes into enormous local Ca(2+) concentrations. This Ca(2+) tuning by the physical composition of the nanodomain may represent an energy-efficient means of local amplification that maximizes information signaling capacity, while minimizing global Ca(2+) load.
Tadross, MR; Tsien, RW; Yue, DT
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