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J Physiol. 1998 Feb 15;507 ( Pt 1):55-69.

Gramicidin-perforated patch revealed depolarizing effect of GABA in cultured frog melanotrophs.

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Laboratory of Cellular and Molecular Neuroendocrinology, European Institute for Peptide Research (IFRMP no. 23), INSERM U413, Unite Affiliee au CNRS, University of Rouen, 76821 Mont-Saint-Aignan, France.


1. In frog pituitary melanotrophs, GABA induces a transient stimulation followed by prolonged inhibition of hormone secretion. This biphasic effect is inconsistent with the elevation of cytosolic calcium and the inhibition of electrical activity also provoked by GABA in single melanotrophs. In the present study, standard patch-clamp configurations and gramicidin-perforated patches were used to investigate the physiological GABAA receptor-mediated response and intracellular chloride concentration ([Cl-]i) in cultured frog melanotrophs. 2. In the gramicidin-perforated patch configuration, 1 microM GABA caused a depolarization associated with an action potential discharge and a slight fall of membrane resistance. In contrast, at a higher concentration (10 microM) GABA elicited a depolarization accompanied by a transient volley of action potentials, followed by a sustained inhibitory plateau and a marked fall of membrane resistance. Isoguvacine mimicked the GABA-evoked responses, indicating a mediation by GABAA receptors. 3. In gramicidin-perforated cells, the depolarizing excitatory effect of 1 microM GABA was converted into a depolarizing inhibitory action when 0.4 microM allopregnanolone was added to the bath solution. 4. After gaining the whole-cell configuration, the amplitude and/or direction of the GABA-evoked current (IGABA) rapidly changed before stabilizing. After stabilization, the reversal potential of IGABA followed the values predicted by the Nernst equation for chloride ions when [Cl-]i was varied. 5. In gramicidin-perforated cells, the steady-state I-V relationships of 10 microM GABA- or isoguvacine-evoked currents yielded reversal potentials of -37.5 +/- 1.6 (n = 17) and -38.6 +/- 2.0 mV (n = 8), respectively. These values were close to those obtained by using a voltage-ramp protocol in the presence of Na+, K+ and Ca2+ channel blockers. The current evoked by 1 microM GABA also reversed at these potentials. 6. We conclude that, in frog pituitary melanotrophs, chloride is the exclusive charge carrier of IGABA. In intact cells, the reversal potential of IGABA is positive to the resting potential because of a relatively high [Cl-]i (26.5 mM). Under these conditions, GABA induces a chloride efflux responsible for a depolarization triggering action potentials. However, GABA at a high concentration or in the presence of the potentiating steroid allopregnanolone exerts a concomitant shunting effect leading to a rapid inhibition of the spontaneous firing.

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