Rapid functional assays of intracellular Ca2+ channels


Functional assays of intracellular Ca2+ channels, such as the inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate receptor (IP3R), have generally used 45Ca2+-flux assays, fluorescent indicators loaded within either the cytosol or the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) of single cells, or electrophysiological analyses. None of these methods is readily applicable to rapid, high-throughput quantitative analyses. Here we provide a detailed protocol for high-throughput functional analysis of native and recombinant IP3Rs. A low-affinity Ca2+ indicator (mag-fluo-4) trapped within the ER of permeabilized cells is shown to report changes in luminal free Ca2+ concentration reliably. An automated fluorescence plate reader allows rapid measurement of Ca2+ release from intracellular stores mediated by IP3R. The method can be readily adapted to other cell types or to the analysis of other intracellular Ca2+ channels. This protocol can be completed in 2–3 h.

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Figure 1: FlexStation assays of ER Ca2+ content.
Figure 2: Concentration-dependent release of Ca2+ by IP3 and AdA.
Figure 3: FlexStation analyses of HEK cells.
Figure 4: FlexStation analyses of mutant IP3R expressed in DT40 cells.


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This work was supported by the Wellcome Trust, and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC). We thank S. Lummis (Department of Biochemistry, Cambridge University, UK) for access to her FlexStation.

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Correspondence to Colin W Taylor.

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Tovey, S., Sun, Y. & Taylor, C. Rapid functional assays of intracellular Ca2+ channels. Nat Protoc 1, 259–263 (2006). https://doi.org/10.1038/nprot.2006.40

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