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Biophys J. 2002 Nov;83(5):2560-74.

Mechanosensitivity of N-type calcium channel currents.

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Department of Neurosciences, Ottawa Health Research Institute, Ottawa, Ontario K1Y 4E9, Canada.


Mechanosensitivity in voltage-gated calcium channels could be an asset to calcium signaling in healthy cells or a liability during trauma. Recombinant N-type channels expressed in HEK cells revealed a spectrum of mechano-responses. When hydrostatic pressure inflated cells under whole-cell clamp, capacitance was unchanged, but peak current reversibly increased ~1.5-fold, correlating with inflation, not applied pressure. Additionally, stretch transiently increased the open-state inactivation rate, irreversibly increased the closed-state inactivation rate, and left-shifted inactivation without affecting the activation curve or rate. Irreversible mechano-responses proved to be mechanically accelerated components of run-down; they were not evident in cell-attached recordings where, however, reversible stretch-induced increases in peak current persisted. T-type channels (alpha(1I) subunit only) were mechano-insensitive when expressed alone or when coexpressed with N-type channels (alpha(1B) and two auxiliary subunits) and costimulated with stretch that augmented N-type current. Along with the cell-attached results, this differential effect indicates that N-type mechanosensitivity did not depend on the recording situation. The insensitivity of T-type currents to stretch suggested that N-type mechano-responses might arise from primary/auxiliary subunit interactions. However, in single-channel recordings, N-type currents exhibited reversible stretch-induced increases in NP(o) whether the alpha(1B) subunit was expressed alone or with auxiliary subunits. These findings set the stage for the molecular dissection of calcium current mechanosensitivity.

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