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Limulus ventral photoreceptors contain calcium stores sensitive to release by D-myo-inositol 1,4,5 trisphosphate (InsP3) and a calcium-activated conductance that depolarizes the cell. Mechanisms that terminate the response to InsP3 were investigated using nonmetabolizable DL-myo-inositol 1,4,5 trisphosphorothioate (InsPS3). An injection of 1 mM InsPS3 into a photoreceptor's light-sensitive lobe caused an initial elevation of cytosolic free calcium ion concentration (Cai) and a depolarization lasting only 1-2 s. A period of densensitization followed, during which injections of InsPS3 were ineffective. As sensitivity recovered, oscillations of membrane potential began, continuing for many minutes with a frequency of 0.07-0.3 Hz. The activity of InsPS3 probably results from the D-stereoisomer, since L-InsP3 was much less effective than InsP3. Injections of 1 mM InsP3 caused an initial depolarization and a period of densensitization similar to that caused by 1 mM InsPS3, but no sustained oscillations of membrane potential. The initial response to InsPS3 or InsP3 may therefore be terminated by densensitization, rather than by metabolism. Metabolism of InsP3 may prevent oscillations of membrane potential after sensitivity has recovered. The InsPS3-induced oscillations of membrane potential accompanied oscillations of Cai and were abolished by injection of ethyleneglycol-bis (beta-aminoethyl ether)-N,N'-tetraacetic acid. Removal of extracellular calcium reduced the frequency of oscillation but not its amplitude. Under voltage clamp, oscillations of inward current were observed. These results indicate that periodic bursts of calcium release underly the oscillations of membrane potential. After each burst, the sensitivity of the cell to injected InsP3 was greatly reduced, recovering during the interburst interval. The oscillations may, therefore, result in part from a periodic variation in sensitivity to a constant concentration of InsPS3. Prior injection of calcium inhibited depolarization by InsPS3, suggesting that feedback inhibition of InsPS3-induced calcium release by elevated Cai may mediate desensitization between bursts and after injections of InsPS3.


Journal article


J Gen Physiol

Publication Date





1165 - 1186


Animals, Calcium, Cytosol, Egtazic Acid, Horseshoe Crabs, Injections, Inositol 1,4,5-Trisphosphate, Membrane Potentials, Photoreceptor Cells