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Biochim Biophys Acta. 1995 Mar 16;1265(2-3):143-51.

Activation and deactivation of membrane currents in human fibroblasts following infection with human cytomegalovirus.

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Department of Pharmacology and Clinical Pharmacology, St. George's Hospital Medical School, London, UK.


The whole cell patch clamp technique was used to study the effects on membrane currents of infection of cultured human embryonic lung (HEL) fibroblasts with human cytomegalovirus (CMV). Four types of membrane currents were found in uninfected HEL cells, namely: Ca(2+)-activated potassium current, inward rectifier potassium current, delayed rectifier potassium current and voltage-dependent CMV. Voltage-dependent sodium current was detected in 30% of uninfected HEL cells whenever they were examined up to 72 h after seeding; however this current had completely disappeared by 18 h after infection with CMV. The delayed rectifier potassium current was detectable in 8% of uninfected HEL cells but, after infection, the proportion of cells expressing this current gradually increased from 20% at 18-24 h post-infection to 100% at 48 h and 72 h. Pharmacological agents known to regulate the activity of ion channels, via cellular secondary messengers, did not alter the frequency at which either current was detected in uninfected and infected cells. Phosphonoformate, an inhibitor of CMV DNA polymerase, caused 95% block of expression of CMV 'late' proteins in infected cells but did not prevent the switching off of the sodium current or the increased expression of the potassium current. The results indicate an association between the expression of CMV 'immediate-early' or 'early' proteins and the down-regulation of the sodium current and up-regulation of the potassium current.

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