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J Physiol. 1996 Jan 1;490 ( Pt 1):1-15.

Static and dynamic actions of cytoplasmic Ca2+ in the adaptation of responses to saturating flashes in salamander rods.

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Physiological Laboratory, University of Cambridge, UK.


1. In order to study the relative contribution to light adaptation of the various actions of Ca2+ in rod photoreceptors, changes in cytoplasmic calcium concentration ([Ca2+]i) were opposed by manipulating the calcium fluxes across the outer segment membrane at different times during the response to a bright flash. 2. When the outer segment was superfused with 0 Ca2+, 0 Mg2+,0 Na+ solution just before a bright flash, the period of response saturation was greatly prolonged. But if instead the solution change was made at progressively increasing times after the flash, the delay before the response recovered from saturation declined exponentially towards its value in Ringer solution with a time constant of around 1 s. In contrast, recovery time was little affected by stepping to 0 Ca+,0 Mg2+,0 Na+ solution before the flash and returning to Ringer solution shortly before the normal time of recovery from saturation. 3. When a bright flash was delivered just before the extinction of steady light, the response recovered from saturation progressively earlier as this steady intensity was increased. If, instead, the outer segment was transferred to 0 Ca2+,0 Mg2+,0 Na+ solution just before the bright flash then the time spent in saturation by the response was prolonged in darkness, but this additional delay progressively decreased as the steady intensity increased. 4. These results are consistent with the notion that the light-induced reduction of the time spent in saturation by the bright flash response in Ringer solution resulted from the static decrease in [Ca2+]i induced by the background, while the additional delay in the recovery from saturation when further changes in [Ca2+]i were prevented stemmed from the abolition of the dynamic fall in [Ca2+]i during the flash response. 5. Analysis of the effects of steady light on the time spent in saturation by the bright flash response under these conditions suggests that actions of [Ca2+]i at, or soon after, the time of the flash are largely responsible for the graded changes which take place in the bright flash response during light adaptation, while rapid actions of [Ca2+]i at the time of response recovery also play a role in the adaptation of the steady response to background light itself. 6. These data have been interpreted in terms of differential actions of [Ca2+]i on 'early' stages (e.g. events leading to phosphodiesterase activation) and 'late' stages (e.g. guanylyl cyclase) in the transduction mechanism. A quantitative model is presented which suggests that actions of [Ca2+]i on 'late' stages play a proportinately larger role in background adaptation than actions on 'early' stages.

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