A Ca2+-insensitive form of fura-2 associated with polymorphonuclear leukocytes. Assessment and accurate Ca2+ measurement

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Life Sciences | Medicine and Health Sciences


The new, fluorescent Ca2+ indicator, fura-2, promises to expand our understanding of the role of subcellular changes in Ca2+ underlying cell function. During an investigation of the role of Ca2+ in the polarization response of human polymorphonuclear leukocytes to formyl-methionyl-leucyl-phenylalanine, we found that fura-2 trapped by cells incubated with the acetoxy-methyl ester of fura-2, F2-AM, yielded measurements of Ca2+ that were depressed at rest and during the response to formyl-methionyl-leucyl-phenylalanine. Fura-2, trapped by the cells, exhibited a spectrum in the presence of saturating Ca2+ that differed from that of fura-2 free acid. We have shown that the cellular fluorescence can be spectrally decomposed into two components: one with Ca2+ sensitivity identical to fully deesterified fura-2, and another which is Ca2+-insensitive. The Ca2+-insensitive component appears to be more fluorescent than F2-AM as well as spectrally different from F2-AM. The insensitive form probably results from incomplete deesterification of F2-AM by the cells. In order to accurately measure Ca2+ in polymorphonuclear leukocytes, it is imperative to check for the presence of Ca2+-insensitive fluorescence. The contribution of Ca2+-insensitive fura-2 fluorescence can be assessed routinely from spectral data obtained by calibration of intracellular fura-2 with known [Ca2+] using ionomycin. The end-of-experiment calibration step not only ensures accurate [Ca2+] measurements in polymorphonuclear leukocytes and in other cell types that display Ca2+-insensitive, contaminating fluorescence but also yields the spectral characteristics of the insensitive species.


J Biol Chem. 1987 May 5;262(13):6308-12.

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The Journal of biological chemistry

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