Spontaneous Ca2+ transients in interstitial cells of Cajal located within the deep muscular plexus of the murine small intestine

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Interstitial cells of Cajal in the deep muscular plexus of the small intestine (ICC-DMP) are closely associated with varicosities of enteric motor neurons and generate responses contributing to neural regulation of intestinal motility. Responses of ICC-DMP are mediated by activation of Ca2+-activated Cl− channels; thus, Ca2+ signalling is central to the behaviours of these cells. Confocal imaging was used to characterize the nature and mechanisms of Ca2+ transients in ICC-DMP within intact jejunal muscles expressing a genetically encoded Ca2+ indicator (GCaMP3) selectively in ICC. ICC-DMP displayed spontaneous Ca2+ transients that ranged from discrete, localized events to waves that propagated over variable distances. The occurrence of Ca2+ transients was highly variable, and it was determined that firing was stochastic in nature. Ca2+ transients were tabulated in multiple cells within fields of view, and no correlation was found between the events in adjacent cells. TTX (1 μm) significantly increased the occurrence of Ca2+ transients, suggesting that ICC-DMP contributes to the tonic inhibition conveyed by ongoing activity of inhibitory motor neurons. Ca2+ transients were minimally affected after 12 min in Ca2+ free solution, indicating these events do not depend immediately upon Ca2+ influx. However, inhibitors of sarco/endoplasmic reticulum Ca2+-ATPase (SERCA) pump and blockers of inositol triphosphate receptor (InsP3R) and ryanodine receptor (RyR) channels blocked ICC Ca2+ transients. These data suggest an interdependence between RyR and InsP3R in the generation of Ca2+ transients. Itpr1 and Ryr2 were the dominant transcripts expressed by ICC. These findings provide the first high-resolution recording of the subcellular Ca2+ dynamics that control the behaviour of ICC-DMP in situ.

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