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J Biol Chem. 2003 Oct 31;278(44):42867-76. Epub 2003 Aug 6.

Regulation of a TRPM7-like current in rat brain microglia.

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  • 1Division of Cellular and Molecular Biology, Toronto Western Research Institute, 399 Bathurst Street, Toronto, Ontario M5T 2S8, Canada.


Non-excitable cells use Ca2+ influx for essential functions but usually lack voltage-gated Ca2+ channels. The main routes of Ca2+ entry appear to be store-operated channels or Ca2+-permeable non-selective cation channels, of which the magnesium-inhibited cation (or magnesium-nucleotide-regulated metal cation) current has received considerable recent attention. This current appears to be produced by one of the recently cloned transient receptor potential (TRP) channels, TRPM7. In this study of rat microglia, we identified TRPM7 transcripts and a prevalent current with the hallmark biophysical and pharmacological features of TRPM7. This is the first identification of a TRPM7-like current in the brain. There is little known about how members of the TRPM sub-family normally become activated. Using whole-cell patch clamp recordings from rat microglia, we found that the TRPM7-like current activates spontaneously after break-in and that the current and its activation are inhibited by elevated intracellular Mg2+ but not affected by cell swelling or a wide range of intracellular Ca2+ concentrations. The TRPM7-like current in microglia appears to depend on tyrosine phosphorylation. It was inhibited by several tyrosine kinase inhibitors, including a peptide (Src 40-58) that was shown previously to inhibit Src actions, but not by inactive drugs or peptide analogues. The current did not depend on the cell activation state; i.e. it was the same in microglia recently removed from the brain or when cultured under a wide range of conditions that favor the resting or activated state. Because TRPM7 channels are permeable to Ca2+, this current may be important for microglia functions that depend on elevations in intracellular Ca2+.

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