Modulation of the cGMP-gated ion channel in frog rods by calmodulin and an endogenous inhibitory factor

J Physiol. 1995 Aug 1;486 ( Pt 3)(Pt 3):533-46. doi: 10.1113/jphysiol.1995.sp020832.


1. Outer segment patches excised in the light were used to investigate the effects of exogenous calmodulin and an endogenous inhibitory factor on the cGMP-gated channel of frog rods. 2. Calmodulin shifted to the right the dose-response relation for activation of the channels by 8-Br-cGMP, but did not change the maximum current or the form of the relation. Reversal of this effect by removal of calmodulin was accelerated by brief exposure to saturating [8-Br-cGMP]. Inhibition by calmodulin required calcium and gave as much as a 5-fold decrease in current for an [8-Br-cGMP] functionally comparable to the presumed physiological [cGMP]. 3. Exposure to low [Ca2+]i (tens of nanomolar) appeared to irreversibly remove or inactivate an endogenous channel inhibitory factor from the patches, increasing the current at low [8-Br-cGMP]. Like calmodulin, this factor slowed the voltage-dependent channel-gating kinetics and did not change the maximum current. However, unlike calmodulin, the endogenous factor remained stably associated with the patches at high [Ca2+]i (1 microM), even with exposure to saturating [8-Br-cGMP]. 4. After the low-Ca2+ treatment increased the current, calmodulin reduced the current to about the same level as it had before the low-Ca2+ treatment, giving a larger fractional suppression. Furthermore, patches with high initial sensitivity to 8-Br-cGMP had small low-Ca2+ effects and large calmodulin effects, while the reverse was true for patches with low initial agonist sensitivity. 5. Application of trypsin to the intracellular surface of the patch prevented the responses to calmodulin and to low [Ca2+]i, suggesting involvement of a cytoplasmic portion of the channel. However, trypsin also reduced the total agonist-induced patch current. 6. Our results are consistent with a model in which calmodulin and an endogenous calcium-binding protein compete for the same site, inhibiting channel opening or cGMP binding. The tight association of the endogenous factor with the channel even at relatively low [Ca2+]i suggests that in the transducing rod it may inhibit the channels most of the time in darkness and in dim light, preventing any potential inhibitory effects of calmodulin. The endogenous factor would be expected to leave the channel only in bright or prolonged light, when the [Ca2+]i is thought to be very low.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Calcium-Binding Proteins / physiology*
  • Calmodulin / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Calmodulin / pharmacology*
  • Cyclic GMP / analogs & derivatives
  • Cyclic GMP / pharmacology
  • Cyclic GMP / physiology*
  • Cyclic Nucleotide-Gated Cation Channels
  • Electrophysiology
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Ion Channel Gating / physiology*
  • Ion Channels / physiology*
  • Rana pipiens
  • Retinal Rod Photoreceptor Cells / drug effects
  • Retinal Rod Photoreceptor Cells / metabolism*
  • Trypsin / pharmacology


  • Calcium-Binding Proteins
  • Calmodulin
  • Cyclic Nucleotide-Gated Cation Channels
  • Ion Channels
  • 8-bromocyclic GMP
  • Trypsin
  • Cyclic GMP
  • Calcium