Intact single twitch fibers from frog muscle were studied on an optical bench apparatus after microinjection with tetramethylmurexide (TMX) or purpurate-3,3' diacetic acid (PDAA), two compounds from the purpurate family of absorbance Ca2+ indicators previously used in cut muscle fibers (Maylie, J., M. Irving, N. L. Sizto, G. Boyarsky, and W. K. Chandler. 1987. J. Gen. Physiol. 89:145-176; Hirota, A., W. K. Chandler, P. L. Southwick, and A. S. Waggoner. 1989. J. Gen. Physiol. 94:597-631.) The apparent longitudinal diffusion constant of PDAA (mol wt 380) in myoplasm was 0.99 (+/- 0.04, SEM) x 10(-6) cm2 s-1 (16-17 degrees C), a value which suggests that 24-43% of the PDAA molecules were bound to myoplasmic constituents of large molecular weight. The corresponding values for TMX (mol wt 322) were 0.98 (+/- 0.05) x 10(-6) cm2 s-1 and 44-50%, respectively. Muscle membranes (surface and/or transverse-tubular) appear to be permeable to TMX and, to a lesser extent, to PDAA, since the total amount of indicator contained within a fiber decreased with time after injection. The average time constants for disappearance of indicator were 46 (+/- 7, SEM) min for TMX and 338 (+/- 82) min for PDAA. The fraction of indicator in the Ca2(+)-bound state in resting fibers was significantly different from zero for TMX (0.070 +/- 0.008) but not for PDAA (0.026 +/- 0.009). In in vitro calibrations PDAA but not TMX appeared to react with Ca2+ with 1:1 stoichiometry. In agreement with Hirota et al. (Hirota, A., W. K. Chandler, P. L. Southwick, and A. S. Waggoner. 1989. J. Gen. Physiol. 94:597-631), we conclude that PDAA is probably a more reliable myoplasmic Ca2+ indicator than TMX. In fibers that contained PDAA and were stimulated by a single action potential, the calibrated peak value of the myoplasmic free [Ca2+] transient (delta[Ca2+]) averaged 9.4 (+/- 0.6) microM, a value about fivefold larger than that calibrated with antipyrylazo III under otherwise identical conditions (Baylor, S. M., and S. Hollingworth. 1988. J. Physiol. 403:151-192). The fivefold difference is similar to that previously reported in cut fibers with antipyrylazo III and PDAA. Since in both intact and cut fibers the percentage of PDAA bound to myoplasmic constituents is considerably smaller than that found for antipyrylazo III, the PDAA calibration of delta[Ca2+] is likely to be more accurate. Interestingly, in intact fibers the peak value of delta[Ca2+] calibrated with either PDAA or antipyrylazo III is about half that calibrated in cut fibers.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

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