The Journal of Membrane Biology

, Volume 72, Issue 1–2, pp 59–74 | Cite as

Membrane potentials associated with Ca-induced K conductance in human red blood cells: Studies with a fluorescent oxonol dye, WW 781

  • Jeffrey C. Freedman
  • Terri S. Novak


A divalent anionic dye, bis-[3-methyl-1-p-sulfophenyl-5-pyrazolone-(4)]-pentamethine oxonol (WW 781) is a rapidly responding fluorescent indicator of KCl diffusion potentials induced in human red blood cells with valinomycin, gramicidin, and with the Ca ionophore A 23187 in the presence of external Ca. WW 781 has a sensitivity of 0.13% ΔF/mV, a detection limit of 10 mV, a response time of less than 1 sec, and exhibits a decrease in fluorescence intensity upon hyperpolarization without detectable shifts in absorption or emission peaks. This dye does not perturb the normal resting potential, and unlike the slow permeant cyanine dyes, does not inhibit Ca-induced K conductance in human red blood cells. However, WW 781 does stimulate Ca-induced unidirectional Rb efflux. With Ca plus A 23187, the initial rapid change in dye fluorescence is sensitive to [Ca] o and to [A 23187], is reversible with excess EGTA, and is inhibited by quinine, oligomycin, and by trifluoperazine. A biphasic dependence of hyperpolarization on K o is evident at pH 6, where the ionic selectivity of activation is K, Rb>Cs>Na and that of conductance is K, Rb>Cs. Conditions were defined which permitted continuous monitoring ofEm for at least 10 min, and the time dependence of the Ca-induced potentials was characterized. Since the properties of the Ca-induced changes in dye fluorescence correlate well with the known characteristics of Ca-induced K permeability, we conclude that WW 781 is a useful indicator of changes inEm, provided that sufficient controls are employed to separate direct effects of Ca on dye fluorescence from the effects ofEm on fluorescence.

Key words

red blood cells membrane potential calcium Ca ionophore A 23187 oxonol fluorescence 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1983

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jeffrey C. Freedman
    • 1
  • Terri S. Novak
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhysiologyState University of New York, Upstate Medical CenterSyracuse

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