Application of two-photon flash photolysis to reveal intercellular communication and intracellular Ca2+ movements

C. Soeller, M. D. Jacobs, P. J. Donaldson, M. B. Cannell, K. T. Jones, G. C.R. Ellis-Davies

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Two-photon excitation makes it possible to excite molecules in volumes of much less than 1 fl. In two-photon flash photolysis (TPFP) this property is used to release effector molecules from caged precursors with high three-dimensional resolution. We describe and examine the benefits of using TPFP in model solutions and in a number of cell systems to study their spatial and temporal properties. Using TPFP of caged fluorescein, we determined the free diffusion coefficient of fluorescein (D = 4 × 0-6 cm 2/s at 20°C, which is in close agreement with published values). TPFP of caged fluorescein in lens tissue in situ revealed spatial nonuniformities in intercellular fiber cell coupling by gap junctions. At the lens periphery, intercellular transport was predominantly directed along rows of cells, but was nearly isotropic further from the periphery. To test an algorithm aiming to reconstruct the Ca2+ release flux underlying physiological Ca2+ signals in heart muscle cells, TPFP of DM-Nitrophen was utilized to generate artificial microscopic Ca2+ signals with known underlying Ca2+ release flux. In an experiment with mouse oocytes, the recently developed Ca2+ cage dimethoxynitrophenyl-ethyleneglycol-bis-(β-aminoethylether)-N, N, N′, N′ tetraacetic acid-4 (DMNPE-4) was released in the oocyte cytosol and inside a nucleolus. Analysis of the resulting fluorescence changes suggested that the effective diffusion coefficient within the nucleolus was half of that in the cytosol. These experiments demonstrate the utility of TPFP as a novel tool for the optical Study of biomedical Systems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)418-427
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Biomedical Optics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Caged compounds
  • Calcium
  • Diffusion
  • Microscopy
  • Photolysis
  • Two-photon


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