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Am J Physiol. 1994 Aug;267(2 Pt 1):C411-24.

Calcium channels in excitable cells: divergent genotypic and phenotypic expression of alpha 1-subunits.

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  • 1Roche Institute of Molecular Biology, Nutley, New Jersey 07110.


The Ba2+ currents and mRNA levels of four members of the rat brain family of alpha 1-subunit Ca2+ channel genes were examined and compared in the rat cell lines GH3 and PC-12 and in the mouse lines NIE-115 and AtT-20. The RNA was measured with ribonuclease protection assays using probes derived from rat brain (rb) Ca2+ channel cDNAs (rbA, rbB, rbC, and rbD), and the Ba2+ currents were studied by whole cell patch-clamp recording. L-, N-, P-, and T-type currents were discriminated by the voltage dependence and pharmacological properties of Ba2+ currents. All cell lines expressed all four rat brain Ca2+ channel genes, except GH3 cells, which lacked rbB. The functional diversity of Ba2+ currents, however, was quite different among the cell lines. GH3 cells showed evidence of L- and T-type currents, undifferentiated PC-12 cells of L-type currents, AtT-20 cells of L-, N-, and P-type currents, and undifferentiated NIE-115 cells of a T-type current that was partially blocked by both nifedipine and BAY K 8644. Dimethyl sulfoxide-differentiated NIE-115 cells also had an L-type current. Differentiation of NIE-115 cells caused an increase in the levels of rbB, rbC, and rbD RNAs. Differentiation by nerve growth factor caused an increase in levels of all four genes in PC-12. Our data give further support for the assignment of rbA, rbB, and rbC/rbD gene products as components of P-, N-, and L-type Ca2+ channels, respectively.

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