Transient Activity of Excitatory Cl− Channels in Chara: Evidence for Quantal Release of a Gating Factor
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In attached patches on the plasma membrane of nonexcited Chara corallina cells, randomly activating, transient Cl− currents with variable amplitudes were recorded. The peak amplitudes of these currents could be grouped into distinct populations with approximately equidistant mean peak currents. Generally, the mean current of the smallest population measured about half of the distance between the means of subsequent populations. Currents of the smallest population occurred most frequently at all voltages; the frequency of observations decreased with increasing amplitudes of the currents. At all voltages transient currents from different populations were similar in duration with the exception of the smallest currents, which lasted only 0.6 times as long as larger currents. Furthermore, transient currents were most frequent at positive voltages, but once initiated at a positive conditioning pulse they were also observed during subsequent pulses to negative voltages. The results are consistent with the idea that Chara contains Ca2+ stores in the vicinity of the plasma membrane, which are indirectly filled from the external medium. Upon quantal Ca2+ discharge from adjacent stores, a process independent of membrane voltage, the concentration of Ca2+ in the cytoplasm increases transiently. Depending on the number of discharging stores, distinct numbers of Ca2+-stimulated Cl− channels activate, giving rise to the macroscopic excitatory Cl− current in these cells.
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