Two types of calcium channels coexist in peptide-releasing vertebrate nerve terminals

Neuron. 1989 May;2(5):1419-26. doi: 10.1016/0896-6273(89)90187-6.


The properties of the Ca2+ channels mediating transmitter release in vertebrate neurons have not yet been described with voltage-clamp techniques. Several types of voltage-dependent Ca2+ channels are known to exist on neuronal somata, but the small size and inaccessibility of most vertebrate nerve endings have precluded direct characterization of the presynaptic channels. However, large nerve endings, which release the peptides oxytocin and vasopressin in a Ca2(+)-dependent manner, can be dissociated from the rat neurohypophysis. Using both single-channel and whole-cell patch-clamp techniques, we have characterized two types of Ca2+ channels that coexist in these terminals. One is a large-conductance, high-threshold, dihydropyridine-sensitive channel that contributes a slowly inactivating current. The second is a smaller conductance channel, which is also activated at high thresholds, but underlies a rapidly inactivating, dihydropyridine-insensitive current. Both types of Ca2+ channels may participate in the peptide release process.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials
  • Animals
  • Calcium / metabolism*
  • Calcium Channels / drug effects
  • Calcium Channels / metabolism*
  • Dihydropyridines / pharmacology
  • Ion Channel Gating / drug effects
  • Male
  • Nerve Endings / metabolism*
  • Nerve Endings / ultrastructure
  • Oxytocin / metabolism*
  • Pituitary Gland, Posterior / drug effects
  • Pituitary Gland, Posterior / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Vasopressins / metabolism*


  • Calcium Channels
  • Dihydropyridines
  • Vasopressins
  • Oxytocin
  • 1,4-dihydropyridine
  • Calcium