An integrate-and-fire approach to Ca(2+) signaling. Part I: Renewal model


  • L. Ramlow
  • M. Falcke
  • B. Lindner


  • Biophysical Journal


  • Biophys J 122 (4): 713-736


  • In computational neuroscience integrate-and-fire models capture the spike generation by a subthreshold dynamics supplemented by a simple fire-and-reset rule; they allow for a numerically efficient and analytically tractable description of stochastic single-cell as well as network dynamics. Stochastic spiking is also a prominent feature of Ca(2+) signaling which suggests to adopt the integrate-and-fire approach for this fundamental biophysical process. The model introduced here consists of two components describing i) activity of clusters of inositol-trisphosphate receptor channels and ii) dynamics of the global Ca(2+) concentrations in the cytosol. The cluster dynamics is given in terms of a cyclic Markov chain, capturing the puff, i.e. the punctuated release of Ca(2+) from intracellular stores. The cytosolic Ca(2+) concentration is described by an integrate-and-fire dynamics driven by the puff current. For the cyclic Markov chain we derive expressions for the statistics of the interpuff interval, the single-puff strength and the puff current assuming constant cytosolic Ca(2+). The latter condition is often well approximated because cytosolic Ca(2+) varies much slower than the cluster activity does. Furthermore, because the detailed two-component model is numerically expensive to simulate and difficult to treat analytically, we develop an analytical framework to approximate the driving puff current of the stochastic cytosolic Ca(2+) dynamics by a temporally uncorrelated Gaussian noise. This approximation reduces our two-component system to an integrate-and-fire model with a nonlinear drift function and a multiplicative Gaussian white noise, a model that is known to generate a renewal spike train, i.e. a point process with statistically independent interspike intervals. The model allows for fast numerical simulations, permits to derive analytical expressions for the rate of Ca(2+) spiking and the coefficient of variation of the interspike interval, and to approximate the interspike interval density and the spike train power spectrum. Comparison of these statistics to experimental data is discussed.