Using gigohm-seal recording, we studied ion channel expression in resting and activated T lymphocytes from mice. Both the number of channels per cell and the predominant type of K+ channel depend upon the state of activation of the cell. Unstimulated T cells express small numbers of K+ channels, typically a dozen per cell, and are heterogeneous, usually expressing either type n or type l K+ channels (see DeCoursey, T. E., K. G. Chandy, S. Gupta, and M. D. Cahalan. 1987. Journal of General Physiology. 89:379-404). 1 d after stimulation by the murine T cell mitogen concanavalin A, large numbers of type n K+ channels appear in enlarged, activated cells. Type n channels appear in activated cells with a time course consistent with that reported for mitogen-induced enhancement of protein synthesis. Voltage-gated tetrodotoxin-sensitive Na+ channels present in about one-third of unstimulated cells from the MRL-n strain are increased approximately 10-fold after activation.

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