Spatial distribution and characteristics of voltage-gated calcium signals within visual interneurons

J Neurophysiol. 2000 Feb;83(2):1039-51. doi: 10.1152/jn.2000.83.2.1039.


Most of our knowledge about insect calcium currents is derived from studies on cultured or dissociated somata. So far, only little data on calcium currents are available for neurons including their dendritic and presynaptic structures. Here we combined the switched-electrode voltage-clamp technique with optical recording using calcium-sensitive dyes in identified fly visual interneurons in vivo to characterize the voltage dependence and dynamics of calcium currents quantitatively and in a spatially resolved way. For all three cell types considered, i.e., centrifugal horizontal (CH), horizontal system (HS), and vertical system (VS) cells, the activation curve is rather flat and covers a voltage range from -60 to -20 mV in dendritic as well as presynaptic areas of the cells. The calcium increase is fastest for CH cells with a time constant of approximately 70 ms. In HS and VS cells, the time constant amounts to 400-700 ms. The calcium dynamics as determined in different regions of the cells are similar except for a small segment between the axon and the dendrite in HS and VS cells, where the calcium increase is significantly faster. In summary, the results show the existence of a low-voltage-activated calcium current with little or no inactivation in dendritic as well as presynaptic regions of fly lobula plate tangential cells.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Calcium / metabolism*
  • Calcium Channels / physiology*
  • Diptera
  • Female
  • Fluorescent Dyes / pharmacokinetics
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted / methods
  • Interneurons / chemistry*
  • Interneurons / physiology*
  • Ion Channel Gating / physiology
  • Membrane Potentials / physiology
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence / methods
  • Patch-Clamp Techniques
  • Presynaptic Terminals / metabolism
  • Species Specificity
  • Visual Pathways / chemistry
  • Visual Pathways / physiology


  • Calcium Channels
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Calcium