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J Neurophysiol. 2000 Nov;84(5):2564-71.

Voltage-dependent Na(+) currents in mammalian retinal cone bipolar cells.

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Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, Wayne State University School of Medicine, Detroit, Michigan 48201, USA.


Voltage-dependent Na(+) channels are usually expressed in neurons that use spikes as a means of signal coding. Retinal bipolar cells are commonly thought to be nonspiking neurons, a category of neurons in the CNS that uses graded potential for signal transmission. Here we report for the first time voltage-dependent Na(+) currents in acutely isolated mammalian retinal bipolar cells with whole cell patch-clamp recordings. Na(+) currents were observed in approximately 45% of recorded cone bipolar cells but not in rod bipolar cells. Both ON and OFF cone bipolar cells were found to express Na(+) channels. The Na(+) currents were activated at membrane potentials around -50 to -40 mV and reached their peak around -20 to 0 mV. The half-maximal activation and steady-state inactivation potentials were -24.7 and -68.0 mV, respectively. The time course of recovery from inactivation could be fitted by two time constants of 6.2 and 81 ms. The amplitude of the Na(+) currents ranged from a few to >300 pA with the current density in some cells close or comparable to that of retinal third neurons. In current-clamp recordings, Na(+)-dependent action potentials were evoked in Na(+)-current-bearing bipolar cells by current injections. These findings raise the possibility that voltage-dependent Na(+) currents may play a role in bipolar cell function.

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