The buffering power, B, of the sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR), ratio of the changes in total and free [Ca2+], was determined in fast-twitch mouse muscle cells subjected to depleting membrane depolarization. Changes in total SR [Ca2+] were measured integrating Ca2+ release flux, determined with a cytosolic [Ca2+] monitor. Free [Ca2+]SR was measured using the cameleon D4cpv-Casq1. In 34 wild-type (WT) cells average B during the depolarization (ON phase) was 157 (SEM 26), implying that of 157 ions released, 156 were bound inside the SR. B was significantly greater when BAPTA, which increases release flux, was present in the cytosol. B was greater early in the pulse - when flux was greatest - than at its end, and greater in the ON than in the OFF. In 29 Casq1-null cells, B was 40 (3.6). The difference suggests that 75% of the releasable calcium is normally bound to calsequestrin. In the nulls the difference in B between ON and OFF was less than in the WT but still significant. This difference and the associated decay in B during the ON were not artifacts of a slow SR monitor, as they were also found in the WT when [Ca2+]SR was tracked with the fast dye fluo-5N. The calcium buffering power, binding capacity and non-linear binding properties of the SR measured here could be accounted for by calsequestrin at the concentration present in mammalian muscle, provided that its properties were substantially different from those found in solution. Its affinity should be higher, or KD lower than the conventionally accepted 1mm; its cooperativity (n in a Hill fit) should be higher and the stoichiometry of binding should be at the higher end of the values derived in solution. The reduction in B during release might reflect changes in calsequestrin conformation upon calcium loss.
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