Functional consequences of mutations in the human alpha1A calcium channel subunit linked to familial hemiplegic migraine. (1/8682)

Mutations in alpha1A, the pore-forming subunit of P/Q-type calcium channels, are linked to several human diseases, including familial hemiplegic migraine (FHM). We introduced the four missense mutations linked to FHM into human alpha1A-2 subunits and investigated their functional consequences after expression in human embryonic kidney 293 cells. By combining single-channel and whole-cell patch-clamp recordings, we show that all four mutations affect both the biophysical properties and the density of functional channels. Mutation R192Q in the S4 segment of domain I increased the density of functional P/Q-type channels and their open probability. Mutation T666M in the pore loop of domain II decreased both the density of functional channels and their unitary conductance (from 20 to 11 pS). Mutations V714A and I1815L in the S6 segments of domains II and IV shifted the voltage range of activation toward more negative voltages, increased both the open probability and the rate of recovery from inactivation, and decreased the density of functional channels. Mutation V714A decreased the single-channel conductance to 16 pS. Strikingly, the reduction in single-channel conductance induced by mutations T666M and V714A was not observed in some patches or periods of activity, suggesting that the abnormal channel may switch on and off, perhaps depending on some unknown factor. Our data show that the FHM mutations can lead to both gain- and loss-of-function of human P/Q-type calcium channels.  (+info)

Ionic currents underlying spontaneous action potentials in isolated cerebellar Purkinje neurons. (2/8682)

Acutely dissociated cell bodies of mouse Purkinje neurons spontaneously fired action potentials at approximately 50 Hz (25 degrees C). To directly measure the ionic currents underlying spontaneous activity, we voltage-clamped the cells using prerecorded spontaneous action potentials (spike trains) as voltage commands and used ionic substitution and selective blockers to isolate individual currents. The largest current flowing during the interspike interval was tetrodotoxin-sensitive sodium current (approximately -50 pA between -65 and -60 mV). Although the neurons had large voltage-dependent calcium currents, the net current blocked by cobalt substitution for calcium was outward at all times during spike trains. Thus, the electrical effect of calcium current is apparently dominated by rapidly activated calcium-dependent potassium currents. Under current clamp, all cells continued firing spontaneously (though approximately 30% more slowly) after block of T-type calcium current by mibefradil, and most cells continued to fire after block of all calcium current by cobalt substitution. Although the neurons possessed hyperpolarization-activated cation current (Ih), little current flowed during spike trains, and block by 1 mM cesium had no effect on firing frequency. The outward potassium currents underlying the repolarization of the spikes were completely blocked by 1 mM TEA. These currents deactivated quickly (<1 msec) after each spike. We conclude that the spontaneous firing of Purkinje neuron cell bodies depends mainly on tetrodotoxin-sensitive sodium current flowing between spikes. The high firing rate is promoted by large potassium currents that repolarize the cell rapidly and deactivate quickly, thus preventing strong hyperpolarization and restoring a high input resistance for subsequent depolarization.  (+info)

Somatic recording of GABAergic autoreceptor current in cerebellar stellate and basket cells. (3/8682)

Patch-clamp recordings were performed from stellate and basket cells in rat cerebellar slices. Under somatic voltage clamp, short depolarizing pulses were applied to elicit action potentials in the axon. After the action potential, a bicuculline- and Cd2+-sensitive current transient was observed. A similar response was obtained when eliciting axonal firing by extracellular stimulation. With an isotonic internal Cl- solution, the peak amplitude of this current varied linearly with the holding potential, yielding an extrapolated reversal potential of -20 to 0 mV. Unlike synaptic or autaptic GABAergic currents obtained in the same preparation, the current transient had a slow rise-time and a low variability between trials. This current was blocked when 10 mM BAPTA was included in the recording solution. In some experiments, the current transient elicited axonal action potentials. The current transient was reliably observed in animals aged 12-15 d, with a mean amplitude of 82 pA at -70 mV, but was small and rare in the age group 29-49 d. Numerical simulations could account for all properties of the current transient by assuming that an action potential activates a distributed GABAergic conductance in the axon. The actual conductance is probably restricted to release sites, with an estimated mean presynaptic current response of 10 pA per site (-70 mV, age 12-15 d). We conclude that in developing rats, stellate and basket cell axons have a high density of GABAergic autoreceptors and that a sizable fraction of the corresponding current can be measured from the soma.  (+info)

Activation of human D3 dopamine receptor inhibits P/Q-type calcium channels and secretory activity in AtT-20 cells. (4/8682)

The D3 dopamine receptor is postulated to play an important role in the regulation of neurotransmitter secretion at both pre- and postsynaptic terminals. However, this hypothesis and the underlying mechanisms remain untested because of the lack of D3-selective ligands, paucity of appropriate model secretory systems, and the weak and inconsistent coupling of D3 receptors to classical signal transduction pathways. The absence of ligands that selectively discriminate between D3 and D2 receptors in vivo precludes the study of D3 receptor function in the brain and necessitates the use of heterologous expression systems. In this report we demonstrate that activation of the human D3 dopamine receptor expressed in the AtT-20 neuroendocrine cell line causes robust inhibition of P/Q-type calcium channels via pertussis toxin-sensitive G-proteins. In addition, using the vesicle trafficking dye FM1-43, we show that D3 receptor activation significantly inhibits spontaneous secretory activity in these cells. Our results not only support the hypothesis that the D3 receptor can regulate secretory activity but also provide insight into the underlying signaling mechanisms. We propose a functional model in which the D3 receptor tightly regulates neurotransmitter release at a synapse by only allowing the propagation of spikes above a certain frequency or burst-duration threshold.  (+info)

Voltage and calcium use the same molecular determinants to inactivate calcium channels. (5/8682)

During sustained depolarization, voltage-gated Ca2+ channels progressively undergo a transition to a nonconducting, inactivated state, preventing Ca2+ overload of the cell. This transition can be triggered either by the membrane potential (voltage-dependent inactivation) or by the consecutive entry of Ca2+ (Ca2+-dependent inactivation), depending on the type of Ca2+ channel. These two types of inactivation are suspected to arise from distinct underlying mechanisms, relying on specific molecular sequences of the different pore-forming Ca2+ channel subunits. Here we report that the voltage-dependent inactivation (of the alpha1A Ca2+ channel) and the Ca2+-dependent inactivation (of the alpha1C Ca2+ channel) are similarly influenced by Ca2+ channel beta subunits. The same molecular determinants of the beta subunit, and therefore the same subunit interactions, influence both types of inactivation. These results strongly suggest that the voltage and the Ca2+-dependent transitions leading to channel inactivation use homologous structures of the different alpha1 subunits and occur through the same molecular process. A model of inactivation taking into account these new data is presented.  (+info)

Calmodulin mediates calcium-dependent activation of the intermediate conductance KCa channel, IKCa1. (6/8682)

Small and intermediate conductance Ca2+-activated K+ channels play a crucial role in hyperpolarizing the membrane potential of excitable and nonexcitable cells. These channels are exquisitely sensitive to cytoplasmic Ca2+, yet their protein-coding regions do not contain consensus Ca2+-binding motifs. We investigated the involvement of an accessory protein in the Ca2+-dependent gating of hIKCa1, a human intermediate conductance channel expressed in peripheral tissues. Cal- modulin was found to interact strongly with the cytoplasmic carboxyl (C)-tail of hIKCa1 in a yeast two-hybrid system. Deletion analyses defined a requirement for the first 62 amino acids of the C-tail, and the binding of calmodulin to this region did not require Ca2+. The C-tail of hSKCa3, a human neuronal small conductance channel, also bound calmodulin, whereas that of a voltage-gated K+ channel, mKv1.3, did not. Calmodulin co-precipitated with the channel in cell lines transfected with hIKCa1, but not with mKv1. 3-transfected lines. A mutant calmodulin, defective in Ca2+ sensing but retaining binding to the channel, dramatically reduced current amplitudes when co-expressed with hIKCa1 in mammalian cells. Co-expression with varying amounts of wild-type and mutant calmodulin resulted in a dominant-negative suppression of current, consistent with four calmodulin molecules being associated with the channel. Taken together, our results suggest that Ca2+-calmodulin-induced conformational changes in all four subunits are necessary for the channel to open.  (+info)

Characterization of elementary Ca2+ release signals in NGF-differentiated PC12 cells and hippocampal neurons. (7/8682)

Elementary Ca2+ release signals in nerve growth factor- (NGF-) differentiated PC12 cells and hippocampal neurons, functionally analogous to the "Ca2+ sparks" and "Ca2+ puffs" identified in other cell types, were characterized by confocal microscopy. They either occurred spontaneously or could be activated by caffeine and metabotropic agonists. The release events were dissimilar to the sparks and puffs described so far, as many arose from clusters of both ryanodine receptors (RyRs) and inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate receptors (InsP3Rs). Increasing either the stimulus strength or loading of the intracellular stores enhanced the frequency of and coupling between elementary release sites and evoked global Ca2+ signals. In the PC12 cells, the elementary Ca2+ release preferentially occurred around the branch points. Spatio-temporal recruitment of such elementary release events may regulate neuronal activities.  (+info)

Control and assessment of the uterus and cervix during pregnancy and labour. (8/8682)

Preterm labour and resultant preterm birth are the most important problems in perinatology. Countless efforts have failed to establish a single effective treatment of preterm labour, partly because the mechanisms regulating the uterus and cervix during pregnancy are not well understood. New knowledge is needed to inhibit early progression of labour (uterine contractility and cervical ripening), and adequate quantitative tools to evaluate the uterus and cervix during pregnancy are lacking. In this review, we outline studies showing that the uterus (myometrium) and cervix pass through a conditioning step in preparation for labour. This step is not easily identifiable with present methods to assess the uterus or cervix. In the uterus, this seemingly irreversible step consists of changes in the electrical properties to make muscle more excitable and responsive to produce forceful contractions. In the cervix, the step consists of softening of the connective tissue components. Progesterone appears to have a dominant role in controlling both the uterus and cervix, as antiprogestins induce early, preterm conditioning leading to preterm labour. Apparently, nitric oxide (NO) also controls conditioning of the uterus and cervix. In the uterus, NO, in concert with progesterone, inhibits uterine contractility. At term, NO production by the uterus and placenta are decreased and allow labour to progress. In contrast, NO in the cervix increases at the end of pregnancy and it may be the final pathway for stimulating cervical ripening by activation of metalloenzymes. The progress of labour can be assessed non-invasively using electromyographic (EMG) signals from the uterus (the driving force for contractility) recorded from the abdominal surface. Uterine EMG bursts detected in this manner characterize uterine contractile events during human and animal pregnancy. A low uterine EMG activity, measured transabdominally throughout most of pregnancy, rises dramatically during labour. EMG activity also increases substantially during preterm labour in humans and rats. This method may be used one day to predict impending preterm labour and identify control steps and treatments. A quantitative method also assesses the cervix, using an optical device which measures collagen fluorescence in the cervix. The collascope estimates cervical collagen content from a fluorescent signal generated when collagen cross-links are illuminated with excitation light of about 340 nm. The system has proved useful in rats and humans at various stages of pregnancy, and indicates that cervical softening occurs progressively in the last one-third of pregnancy. In rats, collascope readings correlate with resistance measurements made in the isolated cervix, which may help to assess cervical function during pregnancy, and indicate control and treatments.  (+info)