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J Physiol. 1988 Sep;403:439-71.

Control of light-sensitive current in salamander rods.

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Physiological Laboratory, Cambridge.


1. The exponential decline of light-sensitive current seen after switch from Na+ to Li+ in the presence of Ca2+ probably depends on the activity of the phosphodiesterase (PDE) which hydrolyses cyclic GMP. 2. This probability is supported by experiments with suction electrodes which show that in toad and salamander rods the rate constant, b, of the exponential decline of current was increased at least 10-fold by moderate light intensities and decreased about 10-fold by 3-isobutyl-1-methylxanthine (IBMX), an inhibitor of PDE. 3. The rate constant b is about 3 times more sensitive to weak lights or to IBMX than the membrane current. This may be explained by a feed-back involving calcium ions which tends to hold current constant, perhaps by calcium inhibition of guanylate cyclase. 4. The time course of b, which probably represents the changes in PDE activity, was measured by switching from Na+ to Li+ at various times after a flash. The results suggest that a moderate flash (140 Rh) increased b about 7 times in 0.5 s and that b then declined with a time constant of 1.5-2 s. 5. Extrapolated values of the parameter b suggest that strong flashes (5000-10,000 Rh) increased b from 1 s-1 in the dark to perhaps 60 s-1 and that b continued to increase with flash strength for several log units after the current had reached saturation. 6. The observations in 4 and 5 fit well with the idea that b is related to PDE activity and that changes in the latter are sufficient to account for the rising phase of the flash response. 7. After a flash the light-sensitive current recovers much more rapidly than the time constant b-1, a discrepancy which is explained if a light flash causes a delayed increase in guanylate cyclase activity. 8. The apparent delayed increase in cyclase activation is consistent with an inhibitory effect of [Ca2+]i which is reduced when calcium is pumped out during the plateau of the response. 9. Experiments in which pulses of IBMX were applied at different times during a flash response support the idea that a flash causes a delayed increase in the rate of supply of cyclic GMP. Quantitative analysis of these and other tests with IBMX gave rate constants similar to those obtained by the Na+----Li+ method.

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