Aequorin was microinjected into squid giant axons, the axons were stimulated, and the change in light emission was followed. This response was compared with that found when the axon, in addition to being microinjected with aequorin, is also injected with the dye phenol red. Large concentrations of phenol red injected into axons result in a high probability that photons emitted by aequorin, when it reacts with Ca in the core of the axoplasm, will be absorbed before they escape from the axon; photons produced by the aequorin reaction at the periphery of the axoplasm are much less likely to be absorbed. This technique thus favors observing changes in Cai taking place in the periphery of the axon. Stimulation in 50 mM Ca seawater of an aequorin-phenol red-injected axon at 180 s-1 for 1 min produces a scarcely detectable change in Cai; the addition of 2 mM cyanide (CN) to the seawater produces an easily measureable increase in Cai, suggesting that mitochondrial buffering in the periphery is substantial. Making the pH of the axoplasm of a normal axon alkaline with 30 mM NH4+ -50 mM Ca seawater, reduces the resting glow of the axon but results in an even more rapid increase in Cai with stimulation. In a phenol red-injected axon, this treatment results in a measureable response to stimulation in the absence of CN.

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