Pancreatic beta-cells isolated from obese-hyperglycaemic mice released intracellular Ca2+ in response to carbamoylcholine, an effect dependent on the presence of glucose. The effective Ca2+ concentration reached was sufficient to evoke a transient release of insulin. When the cells were deficient in Ca2+, the Ca2+ pool sensitive to carbamoylcholine stimulation was equivalent to that released by ionomycin. Unlike intact cells, cells permeabilized by high-voltage discharges failed to generate either inositol 1,4,5-triphosphate (InsP3) or to release Ca2+ after exposure to carbamoylcholine. However, the permeabilized cells released insulin sigmoidally in response to increasing concentrations of Ca2+. Also in the absence of functional mitochondria these cells exhibited a large ATP-dependent buffering of Ca2+, enabling the maintenance of an ambient Ca2+ concentration corresponding to about 150 nM even after several additional pulses of Ca2+. InsP3, maximally effective at 6 microM, promoted a rapid and pronounced release of Ca2+. The InsP3-sensitive Ca2+ pool was rapidly filled and lost its Ca2+ late after ATP depletion. The transient nature of the Ca2+ signal was not overcome by repetitive additions of InsP3. It was possible to restore the response to InsP3 after a delay of approx. 20 min, an effect which had less latency after the addition of Ca2+. These latter findings argue against degradation and/or desensitization as factors responsible for the transiency in InsP3 response. It is suggested that Ca2+ released by InsP3 is taken up by a part of the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) not sensitive to InsP3. On metabolism of InsP3, Ca2+ recycles to the InsP3-sensitive pool, implying that this pool indeed has a very high affinity for the ion. The presence of functional mitochondria did not interfere with the recycling process. The ER in pancreatic beta-cells is of major importance in buffering Ca2+, but InsP3 only modulates Ca2+ transport for a restricted period of time following immediately upon its formation. Thereafter the non-sensitive part of the ER takes over the continuous regulation of Ca2+ cycling.

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