Regulation of cation channel voltage- and Ca2+-dependence in Aplysia bag cell neurons

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Gardam, Kate Elizabeth
Neuronal excitability , Ion channel regulation
Ion channel regulation is key to the control of excitability and behaviour. In the bag cell neurons of Aplysia californica, a voltage- and Ca2+-dependent nonselective cation channel drives a ~30-minute afterdischarge, culminating in the release of egg-laying hormone. Using excised, inside-out single channel patch-clamp, this study tested the hypothesis that inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate (IP3), which is produced during the afterdischarge, and channel-associated protein kinase C (PKC), which is activated throughout the afterdischarge, cause a left-shift (enhancement) in both the voltage- and Ca2+-dependence of the cation channel. Kinetic analysis of bag cell neuron cation channel voltage-dependence revealed that, with depolarization, the channel remained open longer and reopened more often. A cation channel subconductance was also observed, and found to be 13 pS vs. the typical 23 pS full-conductance. The cytoplasmic face of cation channel-containing patches was exposed to 1 mM ATP, as a phosphate source for channel-associated PKC, and/or 5 uM IP3. Apparent PKC-dependent phosphorylation left-shifted voltage-dependence by -3 mV, although this effect was more prominent at negative voltages (between -90 and -30 mV). Conversely, IP3 right-shifted voltage-dependence (change in V1/2 of 6 mV). Cation channel Ca2+-dependence was similar to that previously reported, with a control EC50 of 3-5 uM. This was right-shifted by PKC (EC50 = 30 uM) and even more so by IP3 (apparent EC50 = 20 M). PKC largely rescued the Ca2+ responsiveness in the presence of IP3 (EC50 = 20 uM). Unexpectedly, IP3 plus ATP resulted in an increase in channel unitary conductance at more positive voltages. The multi-faceted regulation of the bag cell neuron cation channel suggests sophisticated modulatory control. Upregulation, such as depolarization and the left-shift in voltage-dependence with PKC, would drive the afterdischarge, while counteracting effects, such as IP3 right-shifting voltage-dependence, as well as PKC and IP3 suppressing Ca2+-dependence, would simultaneously or subsequently attenuate the channel, thus preventing an interminable afterdischarge.
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