Tight-seal recording was employed to investigate membrane currents in hyperpolarizing ciliary photoreceptors enzymatically isolated from the eyes of the file clam (Lima scabra) and the bay scallop (Pecten irradians). These two organisms are unusual in that their double retinas also possess a layer of depolarizing rhabdomeric cells. Ciliary photoreceptors from Lima have a rounded soma, 15-20 microns diam, and display a prominent bundle of fine processes up to 30 microns long. The cell body of scallop cells is similar in size, but the ciliary appendages are modified, forming small spherical structures that protrude from the cell. In both species light stimulation at a voltage near the resting potential gives rise to a graded outward current several hundred pA in amplitude, accompanied by an increase in membrane conductance. The reversal potential of the photocurrent is approximately -80 mV, and shifts in the positive direction by approximately 39 mV when the concentration of extracellular K is increased from 10 to 50 mM, consistent with the notion that light activates K-selective channels. The light-activated conductance increases with depolarization in the physiological range of membrane voltages (-30 to -70 mV). Such outward rectification is greatly reduced after removal of divalent cations from the superfusate. In Pecten, cell-attached recordings were also obtained; in some patches outwardly directed single-channel currents could be activated by light but not by voltage. The unitary conductance of these channels was approximately 26 pS. Solitary ciliary cells also gave evidence of the post stimulus rebound, which is presumably responsible for initiating the "off" discharge of action potentials at the termination of a light stimulus: in patches containing only voltage-dependent channels, light stimulation suppressed depolarization-induced activity, and was followed by a strong burst of openings, directly related to the intensity of the preceding photostimulation.

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