Fast calcium transients translate the distribution and conduction of neural activity in different regions of a single sensory neuron
- Nuhan Purali
- Invertebrate Neuroscience
In the peripheral nervous system (PNS) a vast number of axons are accommodated within fiber bundles that constitute peripheral nerves. A major function of peripheral axons is to propagate action potentials along their length, and hence they are equipped with Na(+) and K(+) channels, which ensure successful generation, conduction and termination of each action potential. However little is known about Ca(2+) ion channels expressed along peripheral axons and their possible functional significance. The goal of the present study was to test whether voltage-gated Ca(2+) channels (VGCCs) are present along peripheral nerve axons in situ and mediate rapid activity-dependent Ca(2+) elevations under physiological circumstances. To address this question we used mouse sciatic nerve slices, Ca(2+) indicator Oregon Green BAPTA-1, and 2-photon Ca(2+) imaging in fast line scan mode (500 Hz). We report that transient increases in intra-axonal Ca(2+) concentration take place along peripheral nerve axons in situ when axons are stimulated electrically with single pulses. Furthermore, we show for the first time that Ca(2+) transients in peripheral nerves are fast, i.e., occur in a millisecond time-domain. Combining Ca(2+) imaging and pharmacology with specific blockers of different VGCCs subtypes we demonstrate that Ca(2+) transients in peripheral nerves are mediated mainly by N-type and L-type VGCCs. Discovery of fast Ca(2+) entry into the axonal shafts through VGCCs in peripheral nerves suggests that Ca(2+) may be involved in regulation of action potential propagation and/or properties in this system, or mediate neurotransmitter release along peripheral axons as it occurs in the optic nerve and white matter of the central nervous system (CNS).