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J Gen Physiol. 2004 May;123(5):581-98.

G-protein-gated TRP-like cationic channel activated by muscarinic receptors: effect of potential on single-channel gating.

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  • 1Laboratory of Molecular Pharmacology of Cellular Receptors and Ion Channels, A.A. Bogomoletz Institute of Physiology, Kiev, 01024 Ukraine. zholosa@sghms.ac.uk


There is little information about the mechanisms by which G-protein-coupled receptors gate ion channels although many ionotropic receptors are well studied. We have investigated gating of the muscarinic cationic channel, which mediates the excitatory effect of acetylcholine in smooth muscles, and proposed a scheme consisting of four pairs of closed and open states. Channel kinetics appeared to be the same in cell-attached or outside-out patches whether the channel was activated by carbachol application or by intracellular dialysis with GTPgammaS. Since in the latter case G-proteins are permanently active, it is concluded that the cationic channel is the major determinant of its own gating, similarly to the K(ACh) channel (Ivanova-Nikolova, T.T., and G.E. Breitwieser. 1997. J. Gen. Physiol. 109:245-253). Analysis of adjacent-state dwell times revealed connections between the states that showed features conserved among many other ligand-gated ion channels (e.g., nAChR, BK(Ca) channel). Open probability (P(O)) of the cationic channel was increased by membrane depolarization consistent with the prominent U-shaped I-V relationship of the muscarinic whole-cell current at negative potentials. Membrane potential affected transitions within each closed-open state pair but had little effect on transitions between pairs; thus, the latter are likely to be caused by interactions of the channel with its ligands, e.g., Ca(2+) and Galphao-GTP. Channel activity was highly heterogeneous, as was evident from the prominent cycling behavior when P(O) was measured over 5-s intervals. This was related to the variable frequency of openings (as in the K(ACh) channel) and, especially, to the number of long openings between consecutive long shuttings. Analysis of the underlying Markov chain in terms of probabilities allowed us to evaluate the contribution of each open state to the integral current (from shortest to longest open state: 0.1, 3, 24, and 73%) as P(O) increased 525-fold in three stages.

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