External calcium ions are required for potassium channel gating in squid neurons

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Science  08 May 1987:
Vol. 236, Issue 4802, pp. 712-714
DOI: 10.1126/science.2437654


The effects of calcium removal on the voltage-dependent potassium channels of isolated squid neurons were studied with whole cell patch-clamp techniques. When the calcium ion concentration was lowered from 10 to 0 millimolar (that is, no added calcium), potassium channel activity, identified from its characteristic time course, disappeared within a few seconds and there was a parallel increase in resting membrane conductance and in the holding current. The close temporal correlation of the changes in the three parameters suggests that potassium channels lose their ability to close in the absence of calcium and simultaneously lose their selectivity. If potassium channels were blocked by barium ion before calcium ion was removed, the increases in membrane conductance and holding current were delayed or prevented. Thus calcium is an essential cofactor in the gating of potassium channels in squid neurons.

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