Scanning Microscopy


To directly assess the physiological roles of sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR) and miitochondria (MT), we have utilized energy dispersive electron probe microanalysis (EPMA) on ultrathin freeze-dried cryosections from isolated papillary muscles, rapidly frozen at precise time points of the contractile cycle. Using this approach, we can detect redistribution of subcellular Ca2+ during the cardiac contractile cycle. Changes in Ca2+ of less than 1.0 mmol/kg dry wt can be detected. By determining the variability of the Ca2+ measurements in preliminary experiments, we have also demonstrated that it is possible to optimize experimental design, i.e., to predict the number of animals per treatment group and the number of X-ray spectra per animal that are required in order to detect a specified Ca2+ difference. Quantitative EPMA of rapidly frozen contracting papillary muscle has also allowed us to correlate the Ca2+ content of SR and MT with the contractile state of the muscle. Our results show a decrease of 40% in the amount of Ca2+ stored in the junctional SR during a cardiac muscle twitch, thus providing direct evidence for a role of the SR as a primary site of Ca2+ release. In addition, we have demonstrated dissociation between MT Ca2+ uptake and activation of regulatory enzymes, such as pyruvate dehydrogenase, indicating that MT Ca2+ uptake is not required for activation of MT metabolism.

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