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A role for Ca(2+)-conducting ion channels in mechanically-induced signal transduction of airway epithelial cells
S. Boitano, M.J. Sanderson, E.R. Dirksen


Mechanical stimulation of a single cell in a cultured monolayer of airway epithelial cells initiates an intercellularly communicated increase in intracellular Ca2+ concentration ([Ca2+]i) that propagates radically through adjacent cells via gap junctions, forming an intercellular Ca2+ wave. Mechanically-induced intercellular Ca2+ waves also occur in the absence of extracellular Ca2+. However, in Ca(2+)-free medium an increase in [Ca2+]i of the stimulated cell does not occur. Thus, mechanically-induced [Ca2+]i changes in the stimulated cell are influenced by the extracellular Ca2+ concentration. To investigate if a channel-mediated Ca2+ flux across the plasma membrane contributes to the elevation of [Ca2+]i in the stimulated cell we used digital image microscopy to measure mechanically-induced [Ca2+]i changes in the presence of Ca2+ channel blockers. In Ca(2+)-free medium containing Gd3+ (20 microM) mechanical stimulation resulted in an [Ca2+]i increase in the stimulated cell. The delay time between mechanical stimulation and increase in [Ca2+]i of the stimulated cell was dependent on extracellular [Gd3+], with a half-maximal effective concentration of approximately 40 microM. Mechanical stimulation in Ca(2+)-free medium containing La3+ (10 microM) or Ni2+ (100 microM) gave similar results. Mechanical stimulation in Ca(2+)-free medium containing the dihydropyridine Ca2+ channel blockers nifedipine (10 microM) and nimodipine (10 microM) also resulted in an increase of [Ca2+]i of the stimulated cell. Mechanical stimulation of cells treated with thapsigargin to deplete intracellular Ca2+ stores, in the presence of 1.3 mM extracellular Ca2+, results in an increase in [Ca2+]i of the stimulated cell without the propagation of an intercellular Ca2+ wave.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)