Nuclear pores enable sustained perinuclear calcium oscillations
Calcium waves propagate inside cells due to a regenerative mechanism known as calcium-induced calcium release. Buffer-mediated calcium diffusion in the cytosol plays a crucial role in the process. However, most models of calcium waves either treat buffers phenomenologically or assume that they are in equilibrium with calcium (the rapid buffering approximation). In this article we address the issue of whether this approximation provides a good description of wave propagation. We first compare the timescales present in the problem, and determine the situations in which the equilibrium hypothesis fails. We then present a series of numerical studies based on the simple fire-diffuse-fire model of wave propagation. We find that the differences between the full and reduced descriptions may lead to errors that are above experimental resolution even for relatively fast buffers in the case of saltatory waves. Conversely, in the case of continuous waves, the approximation may give accurate results even for relatively slow buffers.