Spontaneous Ca2+ sparks and Ca2+ homeostasis in a minimal model of permeabilized ventricular myocytes

Jana M. Hartman, William & Mary
Gregory D. Smith, William & Mary
Eric A. Sobie


Hartman JM, Sobie EA, Smith GD. Spontaneous Ca2+ sparks and Ca2+ homeostasis in a minimal model of permeabilized ventricular myocytes. Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol 299: H1996-H2008, 2010. First published September 17, 2010; doi: 10.1152/ajpheart.00293.2010.-Many issues remain unresolved concerning how local, subcellular Ca-2+ signals interact with bulk cellular concentrations to maintain homeostasis in health and disease. To aid in the interpretation of data obtained in quiescent ventricular myocytes, we present here a minimal whole cell model that accounts for both localized (subcellular) and global (cellular) aspects of Ca2+ signaling. Using a minimal formulation of the distribution of local [Ca2+] associated with a large number of Ca2+-release sites, the model simulates both random spontaneous Ca2+ sparks and the changes in myoplasmic and sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR) [Ca2+] that result from the balance between stochastic release and reuptake into the SR. Ca2+-release sites are composed of clusters of two-state ryanodine receptors (RyRs) that exhibit activation by local cytosolic [Ca2+] but no inactivation or regulation by luminal Ca2+. Decreasing RyR open probability in the model causes a decrease in aggregate release flux and an increase in SR [Ca2+], regardless of whether RyR inhibition is mediated by a decrease in RyR open dwell time or an increase in RyR closed dwell time. The same balance of stochastic release and reuptake can be achieved, however, by either high-frequency/short-duration or lowfrequency/long-duration Ca2+ sparks. The results are well correlated with recent experimental observations using pharmacological RyR inhibitors and clarify those aspects of the release-reuptake balance that are inherent to the coupling between local and global Ca2+ signals and those aspects that depend on molecular-level details. The model of Ca2+ sparks and homeostasis presented here can be a useful tool for understanding changes in cardiac Ca2+ release resulting from drugs, mutations, or acquired diseases.