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Neuron. 1989 May;2(5):1453-63.

Elementary properties and pharmacological sensitivities of calcium channels in mammalian peripheral neurons.

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Department of Cellular and Molecular Physiology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02115.


The major component of whole-cell Ca2+ current in differentiated, neuron-like rat pheochromocytoma (PC12) cells and sympathetic neurons is carried by dihydropyridine-insensitive, high-threshold-activated N-type Ca2+ channels. We show that these channels have unitary properties distinct from those of previously described Ca2+ channels and contribute both slowly inactivating and large sustained components of whole-cell current. The N-type Ca2+ currents are modulated by GTP binding proteins. The snail toxin omega-conotoxin reveals two pharmacological components of N-type currents, one blocked irreversibly and one inhibited reversibly. Contrary to previous reports, neuronal L-type channels are insensitive to omega-conotoxin. N-type Ca2+ channels appear to be specific for neuronal cells, since their functional expression is greatly enhanced by nerve growth factor.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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