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Slow inactivation of the CaV3.1 isotype of T-type calcium channels

Blackwell Science Inc


T-type calcium channels (the CaV3 channel family) are involved in defining the resting membrane potential and in neuronal activities such as oscillations and rebound depolarization. Their physiological roles depend upon the channel activation and inactivation kinetics. A fast inactivation that stops the ionic flux of calcium in tens of milliseconds has already been described in both native and heterologously expressed channels. Here, using HEK 293 cells expressing the rat CaV3.1 channel and whole-cell voltage clamp, we investigate an additional inactivation process, which can be distinguished from the previously described fast inactivation by its slow time course of recovery from inactivation (τ = 1 s) and by its sensitivity to external calcium. Steady-state slow inactivation is voltage dependent around the resting membrane potential (the potential of half-inactivation (V0.5) = −70 mV, slope factor = 7.4 mV) and can reduce the calcium current by up to 50%. Near resting potential, the slow inactivation displays a half-time of induction of tens of seconds. The slow inactivation therefore modulates the availability of T-type calcium channels depending upon recent cell history, providing a mechanism to store information in a time scale of seconds.

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