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J Physiol. 1991;440:635-57.

Voltage-activated potassium channels in blowfly photoreceptors and their role in light adaptation.

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Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge.


1. The membrane properties of the photoreceptors of the blowfly (Calliphora vicina) were investigated in situ by making intracellular recordings in the intact retina, using discontinuous single-electrode current and voltage clamp techniques. Single channels were investigated using inside-out patches from dissociated photoreceptors. 2. Photoreceptors have a resting potential in darkness of -60.4 +/- 6.6 mV (mean +/- S.D.; n = 43), a resting input resistance of 32 +/- 3 M omega (n = 11) and membrane time constant of 4.1 +/- 1 ms (n = 9). These values give a total cell capacitance of 0.13 nF and an effective membrane area of 1.3 x 10(-4) cm2. 3. Single-electrode voltage clamp reveals a voltage-sensitive outward current with an activation threshold at approximately -75 mV. This conductance has two kinetic components, the slower component activating at more depolarized levels. On the basis of its kinetics, a reversal potential of -85 +/- 6 mV (n = 6), sensitivity to intracellularly injected tetraethylammonium chloride (TEA), and its slow and partial inactivation (approximately 25%) this mechanism is classified as a delayed rectifier potassium conductance. 4. Voltage-sensitive potassium channels showing similar properties were found in excised inside-out patches from dissociated photoreceptors. Single-channel conductances are ca 20 pS for both fast and slow kinetic components, indicating a channel density in the intact cell of ca 2 microns -2. The reversal potential follows the Nernst slope for potassium ions. 5. The voltage dependence of the conductance was determined in patches containing channels of predominantly one or the other kinetic component. The midpoint of the activation curve is -65 mV for the fast and -50 mV for the slow component. Activation time constants (measured from a holding potential of -100 mV) are voltage dependent, and in the range 1-10 ms for the fast and 5-40 ms for the slow component. Both kinetic components are blocked by TEA (greater than 2.5 mM). The slow component is more sensitive to quinidine (greater than 200 microM), and the fast component to 4-aminopyridine (4-AP; greater than 200 microM). 6. In the intact preparation the outward current shows no dependence on light stimulation in the studied ranges of voltage (up to -25 mV) and intensity (up to 5.5 x 10(4) effective photons). Ensemble averages of channel openings in perfused inside-out patches show no dependence on calcium concentration in the range 10 nM-1.8 mM.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS).

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