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1. The effects of palmitoyl-DL-carnitine (0.01 to 1 mM) on whole cell voltage-activated calcium channel currents carried by calcium or barium and Ca(2+)-activated chloride currents were studied in cultured neurones from rat dorsal root ganglia. 2. Palmitoyl-DL-carnitine applied to the extracellular environment or intracellularly via the patch solution reduced Ca2+ currents activated over a wide voltage range from a holding potential of -90 mV. Inhibition of high voltage activated Ca2+ channel currents was dependent on intracellular Ca2+ buffering and was reduced by increasing the EGTA concentration from 2 to 10 mM in the patch solution. Barium currents were significantly less sensitive to palmitoyl-DL-carnitine than Ca2+ currents. 3. The amplitude of Ca(2+)-activated Cl- tail currents was reduced by palmitoyl-DL-carnitine. However, the duration of these Cl- currents was greatly prolonged by palmitoyl-DL-carnitine, suggesting slower removal of free Ca2+ from the cytoplasm following Ca2+ entry through voltage-activated channels. 4. Palmitoyl-DL-carnitine evoked Ca(2+)-dependent inward currents which could be promoted by activation of the residual voltage-activated Ca2+ currents and attenuated by intracellular application of EGTA. 5. We conclude that palmitoyl-DL-carnitine reduced the efficiency of intracellular Ca2+ handling in cultured dorsal root ganglion neurones and resulted in enhancement of Ca(2+)-dependent events including inactivation of voltage-activated Ca2+ currents. The activation of inward currents by palmitolyl-DL-carnitine may involve Ca(2+)-induced Ca2+ release from intracellular stores, or direct interaction of palmitoyl-DL-carnitine with Ca2+ stores.
Calcium channels in neurons mediate a wide variety of essential functions. In addition to contributing to action potential shape, they furnish a substrate that acts as an intracellular second messenger. This study shows that the shape of the neuronal action potential has characteristics that promote long openings of L-type (high threshold) calcium channels. We also present evidence that a change in the firing rate of isolated neurons modulates gating of single calcium channels. This mechanism could be important in modulating neuron excitability and providing a rise in intracellular Ca, when needed.
1. Voltage-activated Ca2+ currents and caffeine (1 to 10 mM) were used to increase intracellular Ca2+ in rat cultured dorsal root ganglia (DRG) neurones. Elevation of intracellular Ca2+ resulted in activation of inward currents which were attenuated by increasing the Ca2+ buffering capacity of cells by raising the concentration of EGTA in the patch solution to 10 mM. Low and high voltage-activated Ca2+ currents gave rise to Cl- tail currents in cells loaded with CsCl patch solution. Outward Ca2+ channel currents activated at very depolarized potentials (Vc + 60 mV to + 100 mV) also activated Cl- tail currents, which were enhanced when extracellular Ca2+ was elevated from 2 mM to 4 mM. 2. The Ca(2+)-activated Cl- tail currents were identified by estimation of tail current reversal potential by use of a double pulse protocol and by sensitivity to the Cl- channel blocker 5-nitro 2-(3-phenyl-propylamino) benzoic acid (NPPB) applied at a concentration of 10 microM. 3. Cells loaded with Cs acetate patch solution and bathed in medium containing 4 mM Ca2+ also had prolonged Ca(2+)-dependent tail currents, however these smaller tail currents were insensitive to NPPB. Release of Ca2+ from intracellular stores by caffeine gave rise to sustained inward currents in cells loaded with Cs acetate. Both Ca(2+)-activated tail currents and caffeine-induced inward currents recorded from cells loaded with Cs acetate were attenuated by Tris based recording media, and had reversal potentials positive to 0 mV suggesting activity of Ca(2+)-activated cation channels.4. Our data may reflect (a) different degrees of association between Ca2+-activated channels with voltage-gated Ca2+ channels, (b) distinct relationships between channels and intracellular Ca2" stores and Ca2+ homeostatic mechanisms, (c) regulation of Ca2+-activated channels by second messengers, and (d) varying channel sensitivity to Ca2 , in the cell body of DRG neurones.
The effects of intracellular application of two novel Ca2+ releasing agents have been studied in cultured rat dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurones by monitoring Ca(2+)-dependent currents as a physiological index of raised free cytosolic Ca2+ ([Ca2+]i). A protein based sperm factor (SF) extracted from mammalian sperm, has been found to trigger Ca2+ oscillations and to sensitize unfertilized mammalian eggs to calcium induced calcium release (CICR). In this study intracellular application of SF activated Ca(2+)-dependent currents in approximately two-thirds of DRG neurones. The SF induced activity was abolished by heat treatment, attenuated by increasing the intracellular Ca2+ buffering capacity of the cells and persisted when extracellular Ca2+ was replaced by Ba2+. In addition, activity could be triggered or potentiated by loading the cells with Ca2+ by activating a series of voltage-gated Ca2+ currents. Ca(2+)-activated inward current activity was also generated by intracellular application of cyclic ADP-ribose (cADPR), a metabolite of NAD+, which causes Ca2+ release in sea urchin eggs. This activity could also be enhanced by loading the cells with Ca2+. The cADPR induced activity, but not the SF induced activity, was abolished by depleting the caffeine sensitive Ca2+ store. Ruthenium red markedly attenuated SF induced activity but had little action on cADPR induced activity or caffeine induced activity. Our results indicate that both SF and cADPR release intracellular Ca2+ pools in DRG neurones and that they appear to act on subtly distinct stores or distinct intracellular Ca2+ release mechanisms, possibly by modulating CICR.
A dopaminergic projection from the ventral tegmental area to the ventral pallidum was identified in the rat using anterograde tract tracing and combined retrograde tracing-immunocytochemistry. The projection was found to be topographically organized such that fibers innervating the ventromedial ventral pallidum arose from neurons located along the midline nuclei of the ventral mesencephalon, including the nucleus interfascicularis and nucleus linearis caudalis. Ventral tegmental neurons situated more laterally, in the nucleus parabrachialis pigmentosus and nucleus paranigralis, projected to the ventromedial and dorsolateral ventral pallidum. The substantia nigra did not supply a major contribution to this projection. The proportion of ventral tegmental area dopaminergic neurons projecting to the ventral pallidum ranged from approximately 30% to 60%. The functional significance of the projection is indicated since intra-ventral pallidum microinjections of dopamine elicited a dose-dependent increase in locomotor activity. Furthermore, whereas pretreatment of the ventral pallidum with the GABAA agonist muscimol has been shown to attenuate opioid-induced locomotor activity elicited from the ventral pallidum, it did not attenuate the dopamine-induced motor response. Thus, while mu-opioids in the ventral pallidum may presynaptically regulate GABAergic efferents from the nucleus accumbens, it appears that the dopaminergic input directly influences the ventral pallidal output neuron which is involved in locomotion.