Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization -- Department for Nonlinear Dynamics and Network Dynamics Group
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MPI Kolloquium

Wednesday, 01.03.2006 17 c.t.

Reading the pattern in living cells - the Physics of Ca2+ signalling

by Dr. Martin Falcke
from Hahn-Meitner-Institut, Berlin



Ca2+ is the most ubiquitous second messenger. Cells use Ca2+ concentration changes as information carrier almost as universal and versatile as technology uses electric signals. Ca2+ signals control processes as distinct as muscle contraction and synaptic plasticity, secretion and gene expression. Cells developed a Ca2+ handling tool kit which despite its simplicity produces a plethora of dynamic patterns in space and different forms of oscillations in time. Intracellular Ca2+ dynamic is a nonlinear pattern forming system on sub-cellular, cellular and tissue level. The stochastic elemental building blocks of patterns are events called puffs which represent random strongly localized concentration changes. Hundreds of puffs are coordinated into concentration waves travelling through the cell. Patterns are used to identify the physiological mechanisms producing them. At the same time, the system is an ideal experimental ground to study pattern formation from the stochastic elemental event to the global pattern. Despite its ability to exhibit global oscillations, intracellular Ca2+ dynamics is not an oscillatory medium, the local dynamics does not have an oscillatory dynamics regime. The oscillation mechanism was a prediction of recent theoretical work and has been verified experimentally now. This verification confirms that intracellular Ca2+ dynamic is a stochastic medium. Thermal fluctuations generate all spatial and temporal structures. The presentation gives an introduction to recent developments in theory and experiment in intracellular Ca2+ dynamics.

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