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J Neurobiol. 1997 Apr;32(4):377-90.

Na+ and Ca2+ channel expression in cultured newt retinal pigment epithelial cells: comparison with neuronal types of ion channels.

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Institute of Biological Sciences, University of Tsukuba, Ibaraki, Japan.


We cultured retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells dissociated from adult newt eye and analyzed their voltage-gated ion channels during culture using whole-cell patch-clamp techniques. The results were compared with those of retinal neurons under identical experimental conditions. After 6-9 days in culture (early stage), > 60% of RPE cells developed voltage-gated Na+ and Ca2+ channels that were not observed in freshly dissociated RPE cells. The number of cells expressing Na+ channels and Na+ current density were high after 12-15 days in culture (intermediate stage), while the number of Ca2+ channel-expressing cells and Ca2+ current density were high after 20-30 days in culture (late stage). The activation voltage of the Na+ current in the RPE cells was similar to that in neurons. The voltage dependence of Na+ current inactivation was somewhat different between two cell types. The steepness of the inactivation curve tended to be less in cultured RPE cells than in neurons, and the half-inactivation voltage was about-54 mV for the RPE cells and -45 mV for neurons. The Ca2+ current expressed in cultured RPE cells was too small to detect without replacement of external Ca2+ with Ba2+. The Ba2+ current, like Ca2+ current in neurons, was enhanced by Bay-K 8644 and blocked by nicardipine. These results suggest that the RPE cells, like neurons, expressed L-type Ca2+ channels in culture. The possibility that the development of both Na2+ and Ca2+ channels in cultured RPE cells is a manifestation of the transdifferentiation of RPE cells into neurons is discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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