Ca2+ currents (ICa) and myoplasmic Ca2+ transients were simultaneously recorded in single muscle fibers from the semitendinosus muscle of Rana pipiens. The vaseline-gap voltage-clamp technique was used. Ca2+ transients were recorded with the metallochromic indicator dye antipyrylazo III. Ca2+ transients consisted of an early fast rising phase followed by a late slower one. The second phase was increased by experimental maneuvers that enlarged ICa, such as augmenting [Ca2+]o (from 2 to 10 mM) or adding (-)-Bay K 8644 (2 microM). When [Ca2+]o was increased, the second phase of the Ca2+ transients and ICa showed an average increase at 0 mV of 2 +/- 0.9 microM (4) and 1.4 +/- 0.3 mA/ml (4), respectively. (-)-Bay K 8644 increased the late phase of the Ca2+ transients and ICa at 0 mV by 0.8 +/- 0.3 microM (3) and 6.7 +/- 2.0 mA/ml (4), respectively. The initial fast rising phase of the Ca2+ transients was not modified. (-)-Bay K 8644 slowed the time constant of decay of the transients by 57 +/- 6 ms. In other experimental conditions, Ca2+ release from the sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR) was impaired with repetitive stimulation in 1 mM [EGTA]i-containing fibers. Under those circumstances, Ca2+ transients directly followed the time integral of ICa. Pulses to 0 mV caused a large Ca2+ transient that became suppressed when large pulses to 100 mV were applied. In fibers with functioning SR, pulses to 100 mV elicited somewhat smaller or similar amplitude Ca2+ transients when compared with those elicited by pulses to 0 mV. The increase in ICa after raising [Ca2+]o or adding (-)-Bay K 8644 cannot directly explain the change in Ca2+ transients in fibers with functioning SR. On the other hand, when Ca2+ release from the SR is impaired Ca2+ transients depend on ICa.

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