Kinetic and pharmacological properties distinguishing three types of calcium currents in chick sensory neurones

J Physiol. 1987 Dec;394:149-72. doi: 10.1113/jphysiol.1987.sp016864.


1. Calcium currents in cultured dorsal root ganglion (d.r.g.) cells were studied with the whole-cell patch-clamp technique. Using experimental conditions that suppressed Na+ and K+ currents, and 3-10 mM-external Ca2+ or Ba2+, we distinguished three distinct types of calcium currents (L, T and N) on the basis of voltage-dependent kinetics and pharmacology. 2. Component L activates at relatively positive test potentials (t.p. greater than -10 mV) and shows little inactivation during a 200 ms depolarization. It is completely reprimed at a holding potential (h.p.) of -60 mV, and can be isolated by using a more depolarized h.p. (-40 mV) to inactivate the other two types of calcium currents. 3. Component T can be seen in isolation with weak test pulses. It begins activating at potentials more positive than -70 mV and inactivates quickly and completely during a maintained depolarization (time constant, tau approximately 20-50 ms). The current amplitude and the rate of decay increase with stronger depolarizations until both reach a maximum at approximately -40 mV. Inactivation is complete at h.p. greater than -60 mV and is progressively removed between -60 and -95 mV. 4. Component N activates at relatively strong depolarizations (t.p. greater than -20 mV) and decays with time constants ranging from 50 to 110 ms. Inactivation is removed over a very broad range of holding potentials (h.p. between -40 and -110 mV). 5. With 10 mM-EGTA in the pipette solution, substitution of Ba2+ for Ca2+ as the charge carrier does not alter the rates of activation or relaxation of any component. However, T-type channels are approximately equally permeable to Ca2+ and Ba2+, while L-type and N-type channels are both much more permeable to Ba2+. 6. Component N cannot be explained by current-dependent inactivation of L current resulting from recruitment of extra L-type channels at negative holding potentials: raising the external Ba2+ concentration to 110 mM greatly increases the amplitude of L current evoked from h.p. = -30 mV but produces little inactivation. 7. Cadmium ions (20-50 microM) virtually eliminate both N and L currents (greater than 90% block) but leave T relatively unaffected (less than 50% block). 200 microM-Cd2+ blocks all three components. 8. Nickel ions (100 microM) strongly reduce T current but leave N and L current little changed. 9. The dihydropyridine antagonist nifedipine (10 microM) inhibits L current (approximately 60% block) at a holding potential that inactivates half the L-type channels.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Calcium / physiology*
  • Calcium Channel Blockers / pharmacology
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Chick Embryo
  • Electrophysiology
  • Ganglia, Spinal / physiology
  • Ion Channels / drug effects
  • Ion Channels / physiology
  • Kinetics
  • Neurons, Afferent / drug effects
  • Neurons, Afferent / physiology*


  • Calcium Channel Blockers
  • Ion Channels
  • Calcium