Ca2+ channel nanodomains boost local Ca2+ amplitude

Michael R. Tadross, Richard W. Tsien, David T. Yue

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Local Ca2+ signals through voltage-gated Ca2+ 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 Ca2+ signaling concentration within nanometers of its pore has resisted empirical determination, owing to limitations in the spatial resolution and specificity of fluorescence-based Ca2+ measurements. Here, we exploited Ca 2+-dependent inactivation of CaV channels as a nanometer- range Ca2+ indicator specific to active channels. We observed an unexpected and dramatic boost in nanodomain Ca2+ 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 Ca2+ fluxes into enormous local Ca2+ concentrations. This Ca2+ 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 Ca2+ load.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15794-15799
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number39
StatePublished - Sep 24 2013


  • Biosensor
  • Electrodiffusion
  • Signaling
  • Uncaging

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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