Voltage sensitive calcium channels in the presynaptic terminals of a decrementally conducting photoreceptor. Academic Article uri icon


  • 1. Intracellular recordings were made from the presynaptic regions of the photoreceptors of the median ocellus of the giant barnacle, Balanus nubilus.2. Millivolt changes in membrane potential near the dark resting level in the terminals elicit post-synaptic activity and consequently must be sufficient to modulate transmitter release from these endings.3. In normal saline the terminal voltage usually changes in a graded manner to increasing intensities of illumination of the cell. When the terminal region is superfused with saline containing TEA, 3-AP or high concentrations of K, an all-or-none action potential can be elicited consistently by light or injected current.4. The peak value of this action potential depends on the Ca concentration in the saline. The action potential can be generated if Sr or Ba ions replace Ca, but is reduced or blocked if Mg, Co, or Mn ions are added to the saline. It is virtually unaffected by TTX or replacement of Na with TMA ions in the saline. These results suggest that Ca carries most or all of the inward current during the action potential.5. The action potential is followed by a large undershoot which can last several seconds. The amplitude and duration of the action potential and the duration of the undershoot all grow in increasing concentrations of TEA up to 400 mM, the highest concentration tested. The threshold for the action potential decreases as the concentration of TEA is increased to 10 mM; increasing the concentration further has no effect on the threshold. These observations suggest that TEA blocks a voltage-sensitive potassium conductance at low concentrations but has less effect on the current responsible for the undershoot.6. Electrophysiological and pharmacological evidence suggests that the Ca channels are concentrated in the presynaptic terminals of this photoreceptor.

publication date

  • January 1978