Emergence of organized bursting in clusters of pancreatic beta-cells by channel sharing

A. Sherman, J. Rinzel, J. Keizer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Pancreatic beta-cells in an intact Islet of Langerhans exhibit bursting electrical behavior. The Chay-Keizer model describes this using a calcium-activated potassium (K-Ca) channel, but cannot account for the irregular spiking of isolated beta-cells. Atwater I., L. Rosario, and E. Rojas, Cell Calcium. 4:451–461, proposed that the K-Ca channels, which are rarely open, are shared by several cells. This suggests that the chaotic behavior of isolated cells is stochastic. We have revised the Chay-Keizer model to incorporate voltage clamp data of Rorsman and Trube and extended it to include stochastic K-Ca channels. This model can describe the behavior of single cells, as well as that of clusters of cells tightly coupled by gap junctions. As the size of the clusters is increased, the electrical activity shows a transition from chaotic spiking to regular bursting. Although the model of coupling is over-simplified, the simulations lend support to the hypothesis that bursting is the result of channel sharing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)411-425
Number of pages15
JournalBiophysical journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1988

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics


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