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J Neurophysiol. 1995 Dec;74(6):2590-9.

Magnesium-dependent block of the light-activated and trp-dependent conductance in Drosophila photoreceptors.

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Department of Zoology, Cambridge University, United Kingdom.


1. The effect of Mg2+ on the light-sensitive conductance in Drosophila photoreceptors was examined with the use of whole cell voltage-clamp recordings from dissociated ommatidia. In wild type (WT) photoreceptors, at resting potential (-70 mV). Mgo2+ reduces response amplitude by up to approximately 4-fold in the presence of normal (1.5 mM) Cao2+ and by up to 20-fold in the absence of Cao2+. The Mg2+ concentration required for 50% maximum block (K1/2) was approximately 1 mM with 1.5 mM Cao2+ and approximately 280 microM in Ca(2+)-free Ringer. 2. The Mg2+ block was largely relieved in photoreceptors of the transient receptor potential mutant (trp): the maximum block being only approximately twofold with a K1/2 of approximately 4 mM in both Ca(2+)-free and 1.5 mM Cao2+. 3. The Mg2+ block in WT, but not in trp, was strongly voltage dependent, being relieved by both hyperpolarization and depolarization. The Mg2+ block in WT also resulted in slower response kinetics because of the associated decrease in Ca2+ influx. 4. Noise analysis indicates that, with normal Ca(zero)2+, the Mg2+ block in WT is associated with a approximately 10-fold reduction in effective single-channel conductance al resting potential. 5. The results support the hypothesis that the trp gene encodes a subunit of a light-sensitive channel, which is required for sensitivity to block by Mg2+. The concentration and voltage dependence of the Mg2+ block suggest it plays an important physiological role in determining the gain, kinetics, and signal-to-noise of transduction.

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