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ludc web

Lena Eliasson

Principal investigator

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Exocytosis elicited by action potentials and voltage-clamp calcium currents in individual pancreatic B-cells


  • C. Ämmälä
  • L. Eliasson
  • K Bokvist
  • O. Larsson
  • F. M. Ashcroft
  • P. Rorsman

Summary, in English

1. Measurements of membrane capacitance, as an indicator of exocytosis, and intracellular Ca2+ concentration ([Ca2+]i) were used to determine the Ca2+ dependence of secretion in single pancreatic B-cells. 2. Exocytosis was dependent on a rise in [Ca2+]i and could be evoked by activation of voltage-dependent Ca2+ currents. The threshold for depolarization-induced release was 0.5 microM [Ca2+]i. Once the [Ca2+]i threshold was exceeded, exocytosis was rapidly (< 50 ms) initiated. When individual pulses were applied, exocytosis stopped immediately upon repolarization and the Ca2+ channels closed, although [Ca2+]i remained elevated for several seconds. 3. During repetitive stimulation (1 Hz), when [Ca2+]i attained micromolar levels, exocytosis also took place during the interpulse intervals albeit at a slower rate than during the depolarizations. 4. Exocytosis could be initiated by simulated action potentials. Whereas a single action potential only produced a small capacitance increase, and in some cells even failed to stimulate release, larger and more consistent responses were obtained with > or = four action potentials. 5. Comparison of the rates of exocytosis measured in response to depolarization, mobilization of Ca2+ from intracellular stores or infusion of Ca2+ through the patch pipette suggests that [Ca2+]i at the secretory sites attains a concentration of several micromolar. This is much higher than the average [Ca2+]i detected by microfluorimetry suggesting the existence of steep spatial gradients of [Ca2+]i within the B-cell. 6. Inclusion of inhibitors of Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II in the intracellular solution reduced the depolarization-induced exocytotic responses suggesting this enzyme may be involved in the coupling between elevation of [Ca2+]i to stimulation of the secretory machinery. 7. The size of the unitary exocytotic event was 2 fF, corresponding to a secretory granule diameter of 250 nm. 8. Over short periods, exocytosis may be extremely fast (1 pF/s or 500 granules/s), which is much higher than the rate of endocytosis (18 fF/s or 9 granules/s). Since the latter is in better agreement with the maximum rate of insulin secretion from islets (approximately 2 granules/s), we suggest that membrane retrieval may set an upper limit on the rate of exocytosis during extended periods of secretion.

Publishing year







The Journal of Physiology



Document type

Journal article


The Physiological Society




  • ISSN: 1469-7793