We have investigated the ATP-induced permeabilization of rat peritoneal mast cells using three different techniques: (a) by measuring uptake of fluorescent membrane and DNA marker dyes, (b) by voltage-clamp measurements using the patch-clamp technique, and (c) by measurements of exocytosis in response to entry of Ca2+ and GTP gamma S into permeabilized cells. In the absence of divalent cations cells become highly permeable at ATP concentrations as low as 3 microM. In normal saline containing 1 mM MgCl2 and 2 mM CaCl2, dye uptake and electric conductance are detectable at 100 microM ATP corresponding to 4 microM ATP4-. The permeabilization is half-maximal at an ATP4- concentration of 5-20 microM with a Hill coefficient near 2. The ATP-induced whole-cell conductance at saturating ATP concentrations was 35-70 nS, exhibiting only weak cation selectivity. The activation is very fast with a time constant less than or equal to 65 ms. Pores which are large enough to allow for permeation of substances of 300-900 D are expected to have a unit conductance of approximately 200-400 pS. However, in whole cells as well as outside-out patches, discrete openings and closings of channels could not be observed at a resolution of approximately 40 pS and the single-channel conductance obtained from noise analysis is approximately 2-10 pS. Entry of Ca2+ into cells permeabilized with ATP stimulates exocytosis at low but not at high ATP concentrations indicating loss of an essential intracellular component or components at a high degree of permeabilization. This inactivation is removed when GTP gamma S is provided in the medium and this leads to enhanced exocytosis. The enhancement only occurs at high ATP concentrations. These results strongly suggest that the ATP-induced pores are of variable size and can increase or decrease by very small units.

This content is only available as a PDF.