Voltage clamp experiments allow further characterization of the calcium-dependent repolarizing process in skate electroreceptor epithelium. Four current components are described: a prolonged capacity current, a leakage current, an early active current which flows inward across the lumenal membranes of the receptor cells, and a late current which flows outward. The leakage and capacity currents are linear and may be substracted from the total current, giving net active currents. The early active current is carried by calcium and does not undergo inactivation for at least several seconds. When large stimuli exceed the reversal potential for the early calcium current, the late current is suppressed. Reduction of the ionized calcium concentration in the lumen lowers the reversal potential for the early current and the suppression potential for the late current by the same amount. We conclude that the late current is initiated by a calcium influx into the cytoplasm. During pulses of moderate duration, activation of the late current does not begin until a fixed amount of calcium has entered the receptor cells. The required amount of calcium is reduced if a recent calcium influx has occurred. We suggest that the calcium-activated outward current is mediated by a distinct macromolecule that is insensitive to voltage. Such macromolecules are likely to have an important role in the regulation of electrical activity in excitable cells.

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