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EMBO J. 1999 Jan 4;18(1):131-44.

Ca2+ permeation in cyclic nucleotide-gated channels.

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  • 1Institut für Biologische Informationsverarbeitung, Forschungszentrum Jülich, 52425 Jülich.


Cyclic nucleotide-gated (CNG) channels conduct Na+, K+ and Ca2+ currents under the control of cGMP and cAMP. Activation of CNG channels leads to depolarization of the membrane voltage and to a concomitant increase of the cytosolic Ca2+ concentration. Several polypeptides were identified that constitute principal and modulatory subunits of CNG channels in both neurons and non-excitable cells, co-assembling to form a variety of heteromeric proteins with distinct biophysical properties. Since the contribution of each channel type to Ca2+ signaling depends on its specific Ca2+ conductance, it is necessary to analyze Ca2+ permeation for each individual channel type. We have analyzed Ca2+ permeation in all principal subunits of vertebrates and for a principal subunit from Drosophila melanogaster. We measured the fractional Ca2+ current over the physiological range of Ca2+ concentrations and found that Ca2+ permeation is determined by subunit composition and modulated by membrane voltage and extracellular pH. Ca2+ permeation is controlled by the Ca2+-binding affinity of the intrapore cation-binding site, which varies profoundly between members of the CNG channel family, and gives rise to a surprising diversity in the ability to generate Ca2+ signals.

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