Excitable properties and voltage-sensitive ion conductances of horizontal cells isolated from catfish (Ictalurus punctatus) retina

J Neurophysiol. 1986 Jul;56(1):32-49. doi: 10.1152/jn.1986.56.1.32.


External horizontal cells were enzymatically dissociated from intact catfish (Ictalurus punctatus) retina and pipetted onto a small chamber attached to the stage of an inverted phase-contrast microscope. Individual horizontal cells were recognized by their large size and restricted dendritic arborization. Low-resistance (3-12 M omega) patch-type electrodes were used to record intracellular potentials and to pass current across the cell membrane under either current or voltage-clamp conditions. The average resting potential of isolated horizontal cells was -67 V + 6.9 mV (mean +/- SD, n = 40). At the resting potential, the cell membrane appears to be mainly permeable to K. A depolarizing current step evoked an action potential in the cell. The maximum rate of rise of the action potential (dV/dt) in normal physiological solution was 6.5 +/- 1.8 V/s (means +/- SD, n = 24) and was reduced to 1.2 +/- 0.39 V/s (means +/- SD, n = 9) in 1-10 micron tetrodotoxin (TTX) and 3.2 +/- 1.4 V/s (means +/- SD, n = 6) in Ca-free solution. The maximum dV/dt was reduced in 10 mM extracellular K concentration [K]o to about half of that seen in standard saline, and values in 30 or 80 mM [K]o were similar to that measured in TTX. Following an action potential, the membrane potential reached a plateau potential of + 17.4 +/- 8.1 mV (means +/- SD, n = 17) and remained depolarized for variable periods of time lasting from less than a second to a few minutes. When the plateau potential was long lasting, the cell repolarized slowly and upon reaching zero rapidly repolarized to the original resting potential. The duration of the plateau potential decreased or was absent in saline containing one of the following calcium channel antagonists: La, Cd, Co, or Ni. The voltage-clamp technique was used to identify the membrane currents responsible for the membrane potential changes seen under current clamp. Experiments were carried out using either a single or two individual electrodes. Fast and steady-state inward currents were recorded from isolated horizontal cells in the voltage range between -20 and +20 mV. These currents were a result of increased membrane conductance to both Na and Ca ions. The Na channels are inactivated at depolarized potentials and are TTX sensitive. Ca channels are partially inactivated at depolarized potentials. The Ca conductance is decreased by Cd, Co, Ni, and La. Ba can substitute for Ca in the channel.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Separation
  • Electric Conductivity
  • Electrophysiology / methods
  • Fishes
  • Ion Channels / physiology
  • Retina / cytology
  • Retina / physiology*


  • Ion Channels