In the brain, astrocytes undergo rapid morphological changes when stimulated by the excitatory neurotransmitter glutamate. We developed a chemical probe to monitor how glutamate affects the density and distribution of astrocytic L-type voltage-gated calcium channels (LTCC). The imaging probe FluoBar1 was created from a barbiturate ligand modified with a fluorescent coumarin moiety. The probe selectivity was examined with colocalization analyses of confocal fluorescence imaging in U118-MG and transfected COS-7 cells. Living cells treated with 50 nM FluoBar1 were imaged in real time to reveal changes in density and distribution of astrocytic LTCCs upon exposure to glutamate. The selectivity of the probe was demonstrated with immunoblotting and confocal imaging of immunostained cells expressing the CaV1.2 isoform of LTCCs proteins. Applying FluoBar1 to astrocyte model cells U118-MG allowed us to measure a 5-fold increase in fluorescence density of LTCCs upon glutamate exposure. The imaging probe FluoBar1 allows the real-time monitoring of LTCCs in living cells, revealing for first time that glutamate causes a rapid increase of LTCC membranar density in astrocyte model cells. It may help tackle previously intractable questions about LTCC dynamics in cellular events.
bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience