P2-purinergic stimulation of the L-type Ca current induced by the external application of 100 microM ATP gamma S was investigated in rat ventricular cardiomyocytes using the whole-cell patch-clamp technique. The purinergic-induced increase in ICa was slow and monophasic and reached a steady state within 3 min. In contrast to beta-adrenergic stimulation, after a brief agonist application the current did not continue to increase on washout; recovery started immediately after agonist removal. The P2-purinergic increase in ICa was significantly less in the presence of GDP beta S, but it occurred much faster and was twice as large when a low dose of GTP gamma S (100 microM) was added to a GTP-containing internal medium. This suggests that the ICa increase was mediated by a G protein. Based on electrophoretic mobility and susceptibility to cholera toxin and anti-G alpha s serum, it is proposed that the G protein involved during purinergic-induced ICa stimulation is an isoform of Gs not coupled to the adenylyl cyclase, since the cyclic AMP level was unaffected. High intracellular GTP gamma S (1 mM) maximally activated ICa so that neither beta-adrenergic nor P2-purinergic agonists further increased ICa. In the absence of GTP and an ATP-regenerating system, GTP gamma S was much more potent in increasing basal ICa and supporting purinergic stimulation. This indicates that a nucleoside diphosphate kinase activity might replenish endogenous GTP; GTP exchange with GTP gamma S on the G protein was promoted by the P2-purinergic stimulation and led to a reversible and reproducible increase in ICa. In the presence of 3 mM internal ATP gamma S, the P2-purinergic stimulation was also reversible and reproducible. Moreover, under these conditions (ATP gamma S or GTP gamma S) the increase in ICa was not maintained during prolonged agonist application. Such an inhibition occurred slowly and irreversibly; it might be related to the threefold increase in cyclic GMP. In conclusion, we propose that extracellular ATP induces both a stimulatory and an inhibitory effect on ICa, probably mediated by subtypes of P2-purinergic receptors. An isoform of the Gs protein is likely to mediate the stimulation.

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