Rapid and transient elevations of Ca2+ within cellular microdomains play a critical role in the regulation of many signal transduction pathways. Described here is a genetic approach for non-invasive detection of localized Ca2+ concentration, ([Ca2+]) rises in live animals using bioluminesclance imaging (BLI), Transgenic mice conditionally expressing the Ca2+-sensitive bialuminescent reporter GFP-aequorin targeted to the mitochondrial matrix were studied in several experimental paradigms. Rapid [Ca2+] rises inside the mitochondrial matrix could be readily detected during single-twitch muscle contractions. Whole body patterns of [Ca2+] were monitored in freely moving mice and during epileptic seizures. Furthermore, variations in mitochondrial [Ca2+] correlated to behavioral components of the sleep/wake cycle were observed during prolonged whole body recordings of newborn mice. This non-invasive imaging technique opens new avenues for the analysis of Ca2+ signaling whenever whole body information in freely moving animals is desired, in particular during behavioral and developmental studies.
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