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Adv Exp Med Biol. 2002;514:225-35.

Ca2+-channels in the RPE.

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Institut für Klinische Physiologie, Universitatsklinikum Benjamin Franklin, Freie Universität Berlin, 12200 Berlin, Germany.


The retinal pigment epithelium closely interacts with photoreceptors and helps to maintain the activity of photoreceptors. Investigations using patch-clamp techniques on cultured or freshly isolated retinal pigment epithelial cells from various species demonstrated the expression of voltage-dependent Ca2+ channels with characteristics of L-type channels. Since retinal pigment epithelial cells rarely display changes of the membrane potential which lead to the activation of these Ca2+ channels, their function seemed to be unclear. Recent findings shed light onto the possible role of these Ca2+ channels. First of all, the subtype of these ion channels could be identified as neuroendocrine subtype of L-type channels. Recent studies demonstrated that the neuroendocrine subtype of L-type channels is regulated by serine/ threonine kinases and protein tyrosine kinases. These phosphorylation-dependent regulatory mechanisms lead to Ca2+ fluxes into the cell which are independent of changes in the membrane potential and induced by a shift in the voltage-dependence ofthese ion channels. The regulation modality implied that L-type Ca2+ channels play an important role in signal transduction pathways which are important for a communication between retinal pigment epithelium and photoreceptors. L-type Ca2+ channels in the retinal pigment epithelium seem to be involved in the regulation of secretion of various factors, in growth factor-dependent intracellular signalling and in the regulation of the phagocytosis of photoreceptor outer membranes. Thus, voltage-dependent Ca2+ channels in the retinal pigment epithelium are of importance for the function of photoreceptors.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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