Biological excitability enables the rapid transmission of physiological signals over distance. Using confocal fluorescence microscopy, we previously reported circular, planar, and spiral waves of Ca2+ in Xenopus laevis oocytes that annihilated one another upon collision. We present experimental evidence that the excitable process underlying wave propagation depends on Ca2+ diffusion and does not require oscillations in inositol (1,4,5)trisphosphate (IP3) concentration. Extending an existing ordinary differential equation (ODE) model of Ca2+ oscillations to two spatial dimensions, we develop a partial differential equation (PDE) model of Ca2+ excitability. The model assumes that cytosolic Ca2+ couples neighboring Ca2+ release sites. This simple PDE model qualitatively reproduces our experimental observations.
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