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Eur J Neurosci. 1997 Apr;9(4):824-32.

Development of G protein-mediated Ca2+ channel regulation in mouse embryonic stem cell-derived neurons.

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Institut für Pharmakologie, Universitätsklinikum Benjamin Franklin, FU Berlin, Germany.


Besides other mechanisms, the influx of Ca2+ into embryonic neurons controls growth and differentiation processes. To study the expression and regulation of voltage-gated Ca2+ channels during early neurogenesis, we measured whole-cell Ca2+ currents (I(Ca)) in neurons developing from pluripotent embryonic stem cells. Various receptor agonists, including somatostatin and baclofen, reversibly inhibited I(Ca) in embryonic stem cell-derived neurons. The effects of somatostatin and baclofen were abolished by pretreatment of cells with pertussis toxin and mimicked by intracellular infusion of guanosine 5'-O-(3-thiotriphosphate), suggesting the involvement of pertussis toxin-sensitive G proteins in I(Ca) inhibition. Investigations at different stages of neuronal differentiation showed that somatostatin efficiently suppressed L- and N-type Ca2+ channels in immature as well as mature neurons. In contrast, inhibition of L- and N-type channels by baclofen was rarely observed at the early stage. In terminally differentiated neurons, responses to baclofen were as prominent as those to somatostatin but were confined to N-type Ca2+ channels. The stage-dependent sensitivity of voltage-gated Ca2+ channels to somatostatin and baclofen was not due to differential expression of G alpha(o) isoforms, as revealed by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction and immunofluorescence microscopy. These findings demonstrate that specific neurotransmitters such as somatostatin regulate voltage-gated Ca2+ channels via G proteins during the early stages of neurogenesis, thus providing a mechanism for the epigenetic control of neuronal differentiation.

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