Dynamic Imaging in Living Cells: Windows into Local Signaling

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Science's STKE  08 Apr 2003:
Vol. 2003, Issue 177, pp. pe13
DOI: 10.1126/stke.2003.177.pe13

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Highly localized changes in intracellular calcium concentration [Ca2+]i play a critical role in regulating numerous cellular functions, ranging from muscle contraction to neurotransmitter and hormone secretion to gene transcription. Fluorescent Ca2+ indicators have been invaluable tools in elucidating the role of localized changes in [Ca2+]i in regulating ion channels and other key proteins in various signaling pathways. Other techniques used to investigate localized changes in [Ca2+]i include approaches based on fluorescence resonance energy transfer, and electrophysiological measurements of ionic flux through Ca2+-sensitive channels. This Perspective discusses research using fluorescent Ca2+ indicators to study excitation-contraction coupling in cardiac myocytes, presenting both key findings and limitations of this approach. Complementary approaches useful in studying localized changes in Ca2+ and other second messengers (such as cyclic adenosine monophosphate) are also discussed.

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