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Clustering of Ca2+ transients in interstitial cells of Cajal defines slow wave duration
AuthorDrumm, Bernard T.
Hennig, Grant W.
Battersby, Matthew J.
Cunningham, Erin K.
Sung, Tae Sik
Ward, Sean M.
Sanders, Kenton M.
Baker, Salah A.
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Interstitial cells of Cajal (ICC) in the myenteric plexus region (ICC-MY) of the small intestine are pacemakers that generate rhythmic depolarizations known as slow waves. Slow waves depend on activation of Ca2+-activated Cl- channels (ANO1) in ICC, propagate actively within networks of ICC-MY, and conduct to smooth muscle cells where they generate action potentials and phasic contractions. Thus, mechanisms of Ca2+ regulation in ICC are fundamental to the motor patterns of the bowel. Here, we characterize the nature of Ca2+ transients in ICC-MY within intact muscles, using mice expressing a genetically encoded Ca2+ sensor, GCaMP3, in ICC. Ca2+ transients in ICC-MY display a complex firing pattern caused by localized Ca2+ release events arising from multiple sites in cell somata and processes. Ca2+ transients are clustered within the time course of slow waves but fire asynchronously during these clusters. The durations of Ca2+ transient clusters (CTCs) correspond to slow wave durations (plateau phase). Simultaneous imaging and intracellular electrical recordings revealed that the upstroke depolarization of slow waves precedes clusters of Ca2+ transients. Summation of CTCs results in relatively uniform Ca2+ responses from one slow wave to another. These Ca2+ transients are caused by Ca2+ release from intracellular stores and depend on ryanodine receptors as well as amplification from IP3 receptors. Reduced extracellular Ca2+ concentrations and T-type Ca2+ channel blockers decreased the number of firing sites and firing probability of Ca2+ transients. In summary, the fundamental electrical events of small intestinal muscles generated by ICC-MY depend on asynchronous firing of Ca2+ transients from multiple intracellular release sites. These events are organized into clusters by Ca2+ influx through T-type Ca2+ channels to sustain activation of ANO1 channels and generate the plateau phase of slow waves.