Spiral calcium wave propagation and annihilation in Xenapus laevis oocytes

James Lechleiter, Steven Girard, Ernest Peralta, David Clapham

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615 Scopus citations


Intracellular calcium (Ca2+) is a ubiquitous second messenger. Information is encoded in the magnitude, frequency, and spatial organization of changes in the concentration of cytosolic free Ca2+. Regenerative spiral waves of release of free Ca2+ were observed by confocal microscopy in Xenopus laevis oocytes expressing muscarinic acetylcholine receptor subtypes. This pattern of Ca2+ activity is characteristic of an intracellular milieu that behaves as a regenerative excitable medium. The minimal critical radius for propagation of focal Ca2+ waves (10.4 micrometers) and the effective diffusion constant for the excitation signal (2.3 × 10-6 square centimeters per second) were estimated from measurements of velocity and curvature of circular wavefronts expanding from foci. By modeling Ca2+ release with cellular automata, the absolute refractory period for Ca2+ stores (4.7 seconds) was determined. Other phenomena expected of an excitable medium, such as wave propagation of undiminished amplitude and annihilation of colliding wavefronts, were observed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)123-126
Number of pages4
Issue number5002
StatePublished - Apr 5 1991
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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