Two types of calcium (Ca2+) signaling-propagating intercellular Ca2+ waves of increasing intracellular Ca2+ concentration ([Ca2+]i) and nonpropagating oscillations in [Ca 2+]i-co-exist in a variety of cell types. To investigate this difference in Ca2+ signaling, airway epithelial cells were loaded with heparin, an inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate (IP3) receptor antagonist, by pulsed, high-frequency electroporation. Heparin inhibited propagation of intercellular Ca2+ waves but not oscillations of [Ca2+]i. In heparin-free cells, Ca2+ waves propagated through cells displaying [Ca2+], oscillations. Depletion of intracellular Ca2+ pools with the Ca2+-pump inhibitor thapsigargin also inhibited the propagation of Ca2+ waves. These studies demonstrate that the release of Ca2+ by IP3 is necessary for the propagation of intercellular Ca2+ waves and suggest that IP3 moves through gap junctions to communicate intercellular Ca2+ waves.
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