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J Gen Physiol. 2006 Sep;128(3):373-86.

Regulation of CRAC channel activity by recruitment of silent channels to a high open-probability gating mode.

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  • 1Department of Molecular and Cellular Physiology, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA 94305, USA.


CRAC (calcium release-activated Ca(2+)) channels attain an extremely high selectivity for Ca(2+) from the blockade of monovalent cation permeation by Ca(2+) within the pore. In this study we have exploited the blockade by Ca(2+) to examine the size of the CRAC channel pore, its unitary conductance for monovalent cations, and channel gating properties. The permeation of a series of methylammonium compounds under divalent cation-free conditions indicates a minimum pore diameter of 3.9 A. Extracellular Ca(2+) blocks monovalent flux in a manner consistent with a single intrapore site having an effective K(i) of 20 microM at -110 mV. Block increases with hyperpolarization, but declines below -100 mV, most likely due to permeation of Ca(2+). Analysis of monovalent current noise induced by increasing levels of block by extracellular Ca(2+) indicates an open probability (P(o)) of approximately 0.8. By extrapolating the variance/mean current ratio to the condition of full blockade (P(o) = 0), we estimate a unitary conductance of approximately 0.7 pS for Na(+), or three to fourfold higher than previous estimates. Removal of extracellular Ca(2+) causes the monovalent current to decline over tens of seconds, a process termed depotentiation. The declining current appears to result from a reduction in the number of active channels without a change in their high open probability. Similarly, low concentrations of 2-APB that enhance I(CRAC) increase the number of active channels while open probability remains constant. We conclude that the slow regulation of whole-cell CRAC current by store depletion, extracellular Ca(2+), and 2-APB involves the stepwise recruitment of silent channels to a high open-probability gating mode.

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