Different calcium channels are coupled to potassium channels with distinct physiological roles in vagal neurons

Proc Biol Sci. 1995 Apr 22;260(1357):105-11. doi: 10.1098/rspb.1995.0066.


Whole-cell and sharp microelectrode recordings were obtained from neurons of rat dorsal motor nucleus of the vagus (DMV) in transverse slices of the rat medulla maintained in vitro. Calcium currents were studied with sodium currents blocked with tetrodotoxin, potassium currents blocked by perfusing the cell with caesium as the main cation and using barium as the charge carrier. From a holding potential of -60 mV, inward currents activated at potentials positive of -50 mV and peaked around 0 mV. Voltage clamping the neuron at more hyperpolarised potentials did not reveal any low-threshold inward current. The inward current was effectively blocked by cadmium (100 microM) and nicked (1 mM), suggesting that it is carried by voltage-dependent calcium channels. The inward current could be separated into three pharmacologically distinct components: 40% of the whole cell current was omega-conotoxin sensitive; 20% of the current was nifedipine sensitive; and the rest was blocked by high concentrations of cadmium and nickel. This remaining current cannot be due to P-type calcium channels as omega-agatoxin had no effect on the inward current. Nifedipine had no significant effect on the action potential. Application of omega-conotoxin reduced the calcium component of the action potential and significantly reduced the potassium current underlying the afterhyperpolarization. Application of charybdotoxin slowed action potential repolarization. When N-type calcium channels were blocked with omega-conotoxin, charybdotoxin was still effective in slowing repolarization. In contrast, charybdotoxin was ineffective ineffective when calcium influx was blocked with the non-specific calcium channel blocker cadmium.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / drug effects
  • Animals
  • Calcium Channels / drug effects
  • Calcium Channels / physiology*
  • Charybdotoxin
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Medulla Oblongata / physiology
  • Nifedipine / pharmacology
  • Peptides / pharmacology
  • Potassium Channels / drug effects
  • Potassium Channels / physiology*
  • Rats
  • Scorpion Venoms / pharmacology
  • Vagus Nerve / drug effects
  • Vagus Nerve / physiology*
  • omega-Conotoxin GVIA


  • Calcium Channels
  • Peptides
  • Potassium Channels
  • Scorpion Venoms
  • Charybdotoxin
  • omega-Conotoxin GVIA
  • Nifedipine