High-voltage activated Ca channels in tiger salamander cone photoreceptors were studied with nystatin-permeabilized patch recordings in 3 mM Ca2+ and 10 mM Ba2+. The majority of Ca channel current was dihydropyridine sensitive, suggesting a preponderance of L-type Ca channels. However, voltage-dependent, incomplete block (maximum 60%) by nifedipine (0.1-100 microM) was evident in recordings of cones in tissue slice. In isolated cones, where the block was more potent, nifedipine (0.1-10 microM) or nisoldipine (0.5-5 microM) still failed to eliminate completely the Ca channel current. Nisoldipine was equally effective in blocking Ca channel current elicited in the presence of 10 mM Ba2+ (76% block) or 3 mM Ca2+ (88% block). 15% of the Ba2+ current was reversibly blocked by omega-conotoxin GVIA (1 microM). After enhancement with 1 microM Bay K 8644, omega-conotoxin GVIA blocked a greater proportion (22%) of Ba2+ current than in control. After achieving partial block of the Ba2+ current with nifedipine, concomitant application of omega-conotoxin GVIA produced no further block. The P-type Ca channel blocker, omega-agatoxin IVA (200 nM), had variable and insignificant effects. The current persisting in the presence of these blockers could be eliminated with Cd2+ (100 microM). These results indicate that photoreceptors express an L-type Ca channel having a distinguishing pharmacological profile similar to the alpha 1D Ca channel subtype. The presence of additional Ca channel subtypes, resistant to the widely used L-, N-, and P-type Ca channel blockers, cannot, however, be ruled out.

This content is only available as a PDF.