Contractile activation in striated muscles requires a Ca2+ reservoir of large capacity inside the sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR), presumably the protein calsequestrin. The buffering power of calsequestrin in vitro has a paradoxical dependence on [Ca2+] that should be valuable for function. Here, we demonstrate that this dependence is present in living cells. Ca2+ signals elicited by membrane depolarization under voltage clamp were compared in single skeletal fibers of wild-type (WT) and double (d) Casq-null mice, which lack both calsequestrin isoforms. In nulls, Ca 2+ release started normally, but the store depleted much more rapidly than in the WT. This deficit was reflected in the evolution of SR evacuability, E, which is directly proportional to SR Ca2+ permeability and inversely to its Ca2+ buffering power, B. In WT mice E starts low and increases progressively as the SR is depleted. In dCasq-nulls, E started high and decreased upon Ca2+ depletion. An elevated E in nulls is consistent with the decrease in B expected upon deletion of calsequestrin. The different value and time course of E in cells without calsequestrin indicate that the normal evolution of E reflects loss of B upon SR Ca2+ depletion. Decrement of B upon SR depletion was supported further. When SR calcium was reduced by exposure to low extracellular [Ca2+], release kinetics in the WT became similar to that in the dCasq-null. E became much higher, similar to that of null cells. These results indicate that calsequestrin not only stores Ca2+, but also varies its affinity in ways that progressively increase the ability of the store to deliver Ca2+ as it becomes depleted, a novel feedback mechanism of potentially valuable functional implications. The study revealed a surprisingly modest loss of Ca2+ storage capacity in null cells, which may reflect concurrent changes, rather than detract from the physiological importance of calsequestrin.
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