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1. Tight-seal whole-cell patch clamp experiments were performed to examine the ability of different intracellular Ca2+ mobilising agents to activate the Ca2+ release-activated Ca2+ current (ICRAC) in rat basophilic leukaemia (RBL-1) cells under conditions of weak cytoplasmic Ca2+ buffering. 2. Dialysis with a maximal concentration of inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate (IP3) routinely failed to activate macroscopic ICRAC in low buffer (0.mM EGTA, BAPTA or dimethyl BAPTA), whereas it activated the current to its maximal extent in high buffer (10 mM EGTA). Dialysis with a poorly metabolisable analogue of IP3, with ionomycin, or with IP3 and ionomycin all failed to generate macroscopic ICRAC in low Ca2+ buffering conditions. 3. Dialysis with the sarco/endoplasmic reticulum Ca2+-ATPase (SERCA) pump blocker thapsigargin was able to activate ICRAC even in the presence of low cytoplasmic Ca2+ buffering, albeit at a slow rate. Exposure to IP3 together with the SERCA blockers thapsigargin, thapsigargicin or cyclopiazonic acid rapidly activated ICRAC in low buffer. 4. Following activation of ICRAC by intracellular dialysis with IP3 and thapsigargin in low buffer, the current was very selective for Ca2+ (apparent KD of 1 mM) Sr2+ and Ba2+ were less effective charge carriers and Na+ was not conducted to any appreciable extent. The ionic selectivity of ICRAC was very similar in low or high intracellular Ca2+ buffer. 5. Fast Ca2+-dependent inactivation of ICRAC occurred at a similar rate and to a similar extent in low or high Ca2+ buffer. Ca2+-dependent inactivation is not the reason why macroscopic ICRAC cannot be seen under conditions of low cytoplasmic Ca2+ buffering. 6. ICRAC could be activated by combining IP3 with thapsigargin, even in the presence of 100 microM Ca2+ and the absence of any exogenous Ca2+ chelator, where ATP and glutamate represented the only Ca2+ buffers in the pipette solution. 7. Our results suggest that a threshold exists within the IP3-sensitive Ca2+ store, below which intraluminal Ca2+ needs to fall before ICRAC activates. Possible models to explain the results are discussed.

Original publication




Journal article


J Physiol

Publication Date



522 Pt 2


247 - 257


Animals, Buffers, Calcium, Calcium Channel Agonists, Calcium Channels, Cytoplasm, Electric Stimulation, Electrophysiology, Exocytosis, Inositol 1,4,5-Trisphosphate, Ionomycin, Leukemia, Basophilic, Acute, Membrane Potentials, Models, Biological, Patch-Clamp Techniques, Rats, Tumor Cells, Cultured