Divalent cations directly affect the conductance of excised patches of rod photoreceptor membrane

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Science  26 Jun 1987:
Vol. 236, Issue 4809, pp. 1674-1678
DOI: 10.1126/science.3037695


Phototransduction in rod cells is likely to involve an intracellular messenger system that links the absorption of light by rhodopsin to a change in membrane conductance. The direct effect of guanosine 3',5'-monophosphate (cGMP) on excised patches of rod outer segment membrane strongly supports a role for cGMP as an intracellular messenger in phototransduction. It is reported here that magnesium and calcium directly affect the conductance of excised patches of rod membrane in the absence of cGMP and that magnesium, applied to intact rod cells, blocks a component of the cellular light response. The divalent cation-suppressed conductance in excised patches showed outward rectification and cation-selective permeability resembling those of the light-suppressed conductance measured from the intact rod cell. The divalent cation-suppressed conductance was partly blocked by a concentration of the pharmacological agent L-cis-diltiazem that blocked all of the cGMP-activated conductance. Divalent cations may act, together with cGMP, as an intracellular messenger system that mediates the light response of the rod photoreceptor cell.