T-Type calcium channel alpha1G and alpha1H subunits in human retinoblastoma cells and their loss after differentiation

J Neurophysiol. 2002 Jul;88(1):196-205. doi: 10.1152/jn.2002.88.1.196.


Human retinoblastoma cells are multipotent retinal precursor cells capable of differentiating into photoreceptors, neurons, and glia. The current-voltage relation of the undifferentiated cells is dominated by a transient inward current that disappears shortly after differentiation. In 20 mM Ba(2+)-containing bath solutions, the current has an activation midpoint near -25 mV and appears to be fully inactivated at -20 mV. Sr(2+) and Ca(2+) are preferred charge carriers relative to Ba(2+), and the current vanishes in the absence of these divalent cations. Cd(2+) blocks the current with an IC(50) of 160 microM, and Ni(2+) blocks in a biphasic manner with IC(50)s of 22 and 352 microM. The current is unaffected when sodium is replaced with other monovalent cations, and it is insensitive to nifedipine, omega-conotoxin GVIA, omega-agatoxin IVA, and omega-conotoxin MVIIC. RT-PCR revealed the presence of alpha 1G and alpha 1H mRNA in undifferentiated cells, but following differentiation, a striking reduction of both alpha 1G and alpha 1H mRNA was found, and this was paralleled by the loss of T-type Ca channel currents. alpha 1I subunit mRNA levels were low in undifferentiated and differentiated cells. These results suggest that T-type Ca channels could play a role in undifferentiated retinoblastoma cell physiology since alpha 1G and alpha 1H Ca channel subunit expression is reduced in cells that have differentiated and exited the cell cycle.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Calcium Channel Blockers / pharmacology
  • Calcium Channels, T-Type / drug effects
  • Calcium Channels, T-Type / metabolism*
  • Calcium Channels, T-Type / physiology
  • Cations, Divalent / metabolism
  • Cell Differentiation / physiology
  • Electric Conductivity
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Humans
  • Mibefradil / pharmacology
  • Protein Isoforms / metabolism
  • Protein Isoforms / physiology
  • Retinoblastoma / metabolism*
  • Retinoblastoma / pathology
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • Calcium Channel Blockers
  • Calcium Channels, T-Type
  • Cations, Divalent
  • Protein Isoforms
  • Mibefradil