Taste bud type II cells fire action potentials in response to tastants, triggering nonvesicular ATP release to gustatory neurons via voltage-gated CALHM1-associated ion channels. Whereas CALHM1 regulates mouse cortical neuron excitability, its roles in regulating type II cell excitability are unknown. In this study, we compared membrane conductances and action potentials in single identified TRPM5-GFP-expressing circumvallate papillae type II cells acutely isolated from wild-type (WT) and Calhm1 knockout (KO) mice. The activation kinetics of large voltage-gated outward currents were accelerated in cells from Calhm1 KO mice, and their associated nonselective tail currents, previously shown to be highly correlated with ATP release, were completely absent in Calhm1 KO cells, suggesting that CALHM1 contributes to all of these currents. Calhm1 deletion did not significantly alter resting membrane potential or input resistance, the amplitudes and kinetics of Na+ currents either estimated from action potentials or recorded from steady-state voltage pulses, or action potential threshold, overshoot peak, afterhyperpolarization, and firing frequency. However, Calhm1 deletion reduced the half-widths of action potentials and accelerated the deactivation kinetics of transient outward currents, suggesting that the CALHM1-associated conductance becomes activated during the repolarization phase of action potentials.NEW & NOTEWORTHY CALHM1 is an essential ion channel component of the ATP neurotransmitter release mechanism in type II taste bud cells. Its contribution to type II cell resting membrane properties and excitability is unknown. Nonselective voltage-gated currents, previously associated with ATP release, were absent in cells lacking CALHM1. Calhm1 deletion was without effects on resting membrane properties or voltage-gated Na+ and K+ channels but contributed modestly to the kinetics of action potentials.
Keywords: ATP release channel; taste bud; voltage clamp; voltage-gated ion channel.
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