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Department of Pharmacology


The kinetics of Ins(1,4,5)P3 (InsP3)-stimulated Ca2+ release from intracellular stores are unusual in that submaximal concentrations of InsP3 rapidly release only a fraction of the InsP3-sensitive Ca2+ stores. By measuring unidirectional 45Ca2+ efflux from permeabilized rat hepatocytes, we demonstrate that such quantal responses to InsP3 occur at all temperatures between 2 and 37 degrees C, but at much lower rates at the lower temperatures. Preincubation with submaximal concentrations of InsP3, which themselves evoked quantal Ca2+ release, had no effect on the sensitivity of the stores to further additions of InsP3. The final Ca2+ content of the stores was the same whether they were stimulated with two submaximal doses of InsP3 or a single addition of the sum of these doses. Such incremental responses and the persistence of quantal behaviour at 2 degrees C indicate that InsP3-evoked receptor inactivation is unlikely to be the cause of quantal Ca2+ mobilization. Reducing the Ca2+ content of the intracellular stores by up to 45% did not affect their sensitivity to InsP3, but substantially reduced the time taken for each submaximal InsP3 concentration to exert its full effect. These results suggest that neither luminal nor cytosolic Ca2+ regulation of InsP3 receptors are the determinants of quantal behaviour. Our results are not therefore consistent with incremental responses to InsP3 depending on mechanisms involving attenuation of InsP3 receptor function by cytosolic or luminal Ca2+ or by InsP3 binding itself. We conclude that incremental activation of Ca2+ release results from all-or-nothing emptying of stores with heterogeneous sensitivities to InsP3. These characteristics allow rapid graded recruitment of InsP3-sensitive Ca2+ stores as the cytosolic InsP3 concentration increases.

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15 August 1997
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Publication type: 
Journal articles
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The Biochemical journal
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