A latent ATP-dependent Ca storage system is enriched in preparations of pinched-off presynaptic nerve terminals (synaptosomes), and is exposed when the terminals are disrupted by osmotic shock or saponin treatment. The data indicate that a fraction of the Ca uptake (measured with 45Ca) is associated with the intraterminal mitochondria; it is blocked by ruthenium red, by FCCP, and by azide + dinitrophenol + oligomycin. There is, however, a residual ATP-dependent Ca uptake that is insensitive to the aforementioned poisons; this (nonmitochondrial) Ca uptake is blocked by tetracaine, mersalyl and A-23187. Moreover, A-23187 rapidly releases previously accumulated Ca from these (nonmitochondrial) storage sites, whereas the Ca chelator, EGTA, does not. The proteolytic enzyme, trypsin, spares the mitochondria but inactivates the nonmitochondrial Ca uptake mechanism. Chemical measurements of total Ca indicate that the ATP-dependent Ca uptake at the nonmitochondrial sites involves the net transfer of Ca from medium to tissue fragments. This system can sequester Ca when the ambient-ionized Ca2+ concentration (buffered with EGTA) is less than 0.3 micrometer; brain mitochondria take up little Ca when the ionized Ca2+ level is this low. Preliminary subfractionation studies indicate that the nonmitochondrial Ca storage system does not sediment with synaptic vesicles. We propose that this Ca storage system, which has many properties comparable to those of skeletal muscle sarcoplasmic reticulum, may be associated with intraterminal smooth endoplasmic reticulum. This Ca-sequestering organelle may help to buffer intracellular Ca.

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