The voltage-dependent conductances of Limulus ventral photoreceptors have been investigated using a voltage-clamp technique. Depolarization in the dark induces inward and outward currents. The inward current is reduced by removing Na+ or Ca2+ and is abolished by removing both ions. These results suggest that both Na+ and Ca2+ carry voltage-dependent inward current. Inward current is insensitive to tetrodotoxin but is blocked by external Ni2+. The outward current has a large transient component that is followed by a smaller maintained component. Intracellular tetraethylammonium preferentially reduces the maintained component, and extracellular 4-amino pyridine preferentially reduces the transient component. Neither component is strongly affected by removal of extracellular Ca2+ or by intracellular injection of EGTA. It is concluded that the photoreceptors contain at least three separate voltage-dependent conductances: 1) a conductance giving rise to inward currents; 2) a delayed rectifier giving rise to maintained outward K+ current; and 3) a rapidly inactivating K+ conductance similar to the A current of molluscan neurons.

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