A magnesium current in Paramecium

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Science  12 Oct 1990:
Vol. 250, Issue 4978, pp. 285-288
DOI: 10.1126/science.2218533


Recent reappraisals of the role of ionized magnesium in cell function suggest that many cells maintain intracellular free Mg2+ at low concentrations (0.1 to 0.7 mM) and that external agents can influence cell function via changes in intracellular Mg2+ concentration. Depolarization and hyperpolarization of voltage-clamped Paramecium elicited a Mg2(+)-specific current, IMg. Both Co2+ and Mn2+ were able to substitute for Mg2+ as charge carriers, but the resultant currents were reduced compared with Mg2+ currents. Intracellular free Mg2+ concentrations were estimated from the reversal potential of IMg to be about 0.39 mM. The IMg was inhibited when external Ca2+ was removed or a Ca2+ chelator was injected, suggesting that its activation was Ca2(+)-dependent.

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