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J Neurosci. 1996 Aug 15;16(16):4983-93.

The alpha 1E calcium channel exhibits permeation properties similar to low-voltage-activated calcium channels.

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Biotechnology Laboratory, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.


The physiological and pharmacological properties of the alpha 1E calcium (Ca) channel subtype do not exactly match any of the established categories described for native neuronal Ca currents. Many of the key diagnostic features used to assign cloned Ca channels to their native counterparts, however, are dependent on a number of factors, including cellular environment, beta subunit coexpression, and modulation by second messengers and G-proteins. Here, by examining the intrinsic pore characteristics of a family of transiently expressed neuronal Ca channels, we demonstrate that the permeation properties of alpha 1E closely resemble those described for a subset of low-threshold Ca channels. The alpha 1A (P-/Q-type), alpha 1B (N-type), and alpha 1C (L-type) high-threshold Ca channels all exhibit larger whole-cell currents with barium (Ba) as the charge carrier as compared with Ca or strontium (Sr). In contrast, macroscopic alpha 1E currents are largest in Sr, followed by Ca and then Ba. The unique permeation properties of alpha 1E are maintained at the single-channel level, are independent of the nature of the expression system, and are not affected by coexpression of alpha 2 and beta subunits. Overall, the permeation characteristics of alpha 1E are distinct from those described for R-type currents and share some similarities with native low-threshold Ca channels.

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