Excitation-contraction coupling in heart: new insights from Ca2+ sparks - Inserm - Institut national de la santé et de la recherche médicale Access content directly
Journal Articles Cell Calcium Year : 1996

Excitation-contraction coupling in heart: new insights from Ca2+ sparks


Ca2+ sparks, the elementary units of sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR) Ca2+ release in cardiac, smooth and skeletal muscle are localized (24 pm) increases in intracellular Ca2+ concentration, [Ca'+],, that last briefly (30-l 00 ms). These Ca2+ sparks arise from the openings of a single SR Ca2+ release channel (ryanodine receptor, RyR) or a few RyRs acting in concert. In heart muscle, Ca2+ sparks can occur spontaneously in quiescent cells at a low rate (100 s-l per cell). Identical Ca2+ sparks are also triggered by depolarization because the voltage-gated sarcolemmal L-type Ca2+ channels (dihydropyridine receptors, DHPRs) locally increase [Ca'+], and thereby activate the RyRs by Ca'+-induced Ca2+ release (CICR). The exquisite responsiveness of this process, reflected by the ability of even a single DHPR to activate a Ca2+ spark, is perhaps due to the large local increase in [Ca2+], in the vicinity of the RyR that is a consequence of the close apposition of the DHPRs and the RyRs. In this review we examine our current understanding of cardiac excitation-contraction (EC) coupling in light of recent studies on the elementary Ca2+ release events or Ca2+ sparks. In addition, we further characterized Ca2+ spark properties in rat and mouse heart cells. Specifically we have determined that: (i) Ca2+ sparks occur at the junctions between the transverse-tubules and the SR in both species; (ii) Ca2+ sparks are asymmetric, being 18% longer in the longitudinal direction than in the transverse direction; and (iii) Ca2+ sparks individually do not produce measurable sarcomere shortening (< 1%). These results are discussed with respect to local activation of the RyRs, the stability of CICR, Ca2+ diffusion, and the theory of EC coupling.
Embargoed file
Embargoed file
Ne sera jamais visible

Dates and versions

inserm-02477341 , version 1 (13-02-2020)


  • HAL Id : inserm-02477341 , version 1


H Cheng, M R Lederer, R-P Xiao, Ana Maria Gómez, Y-y Zhou, et al.. Excitation-contraction coupling in heart: new insights from Ca2+ sparks. Cell Calcium, 1996, 20 (2), pp.129-140. ⟨inserm-02477341⟩


8 View
0 Download


Gmail Facebook X LinkedIn More