The objective of these studies was to define the roles of calcium and sodium in uterine smooth muscle excitation. The double sucrose-gap technique was used for current-clamp and voltage-clamp experiments. It was shown that neither sodium nor calcium alone is capable of supporting excitation in estrogen-dominated uterine smooth muscle. Calcium dependence was explained in part by increased membrane "leakage" current in calcium-free solution and calcium control of the voltage dependence of the early transient conductance. High concentrations of TTX did not affect the magnitude of the peak transient current while La+++, Mn++, and Co++ greatly reduced or abolished it and decreased the steady-state current. From these and other data it was concluded that the regenerative mechanism in uterine smooth muscle has the functional characteristics of a single transient conductance channel whose activation requires the presence of both sodium and calcium. Insensitivity to TTX indicates that the molecular structure of the channel is unlike that in certain sodium-dependent systems, while the effects of La+++, Mn++, Co++, and Ca++ reveal a similar dependence of conductances on extracellular polyvalent cations.

This content is only available as a PDF.