Epithelial wound healing is an evolutionarily conserved process that requires coordination across a field of cells. Studies in many organisms have shown that cytosolic calcium levels rise within a field of cells around the wound and spread to neighboring cells, within seconds of wounding. Although calcium is a known potent second messenger and master regulator of wound-healing programs, it is unknown what initiates the rise of cytosolic calcium across the wound field. Here we use laser ablation, a commonly used technique for the precision removal of cells or subcellular components, as a tool to investigate mechanisms of calcium entry upon wounding. Despite its precise ablation capabilities, we find that this technique damages cells outside the primary wound via a laser-induced cavitation bubble, which forms and collapses within microseconds of ablation. This cavitation bubble damages the plasma membranes of cells it contacts, tens of microns away from the wound, allowing direct calcium entry from extracellular fluid into damaged cells. Approximately 45 s after this rapid influx of calcium, we observe a second influx of calcium that spreads to neighboring cells beyond the footprint of cavitation. The occurrence of this second, delayed calcium expansion event is predicted by wound size, indicating that a separate mechanism of calcium entry exists, corresponding to cell loss at the primary wound. Our research demonstrates that the damage profile of laser ablation is more similar to a crush injury than the precision removal of individual cells. The generation of membrane microtears upon ablation is consistent with studies in the field of optoporation, which investigate ablation-induced cellular permeability. We conclude that multiple types of damage, including microtears and cell loss, result in multiple mechanisms of calcium influx around epithelial wounds.
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