Light-dependent membrane currents were recorded from solitary Lima photoreceptors with the whole-cell clamp technique. Light stimulation from a holding voltage near the cell's resting potential evokes a transient inward current graded with light intensity, accompanied by an increase in membrane conductance. While the photocurrent elicited by dim flashes decays smoothly, at higher stimulus intensities two kinetically distinct components become visible. Superfusion with TEA or intracellular perfusion with Cs do not eliminate this phenomenon, indicating that it is not due to the activation of the Ca-sensitive K channels that are present in these cells. The relative amplitude of the late component vs. the early peak of the light response is significantly more pronounced at -60 mV than at -40 mV. At low light intensities the reversal potential of the photocurrent is around 0 mV, but with brighter lights no single reversal potential is found; rather, a biphasic response with an inward and an outward component can be seen within a certain range of membrane voltages. Light adaptation through repetitive stimulation with bright flashes diminishes the amplitude of the early but not the late phase of the photocurrent. These observations can be accounted for by postulating two separate light-dependent conductances with different ionic selectivity, kinetics, and light sensitivity. The light response is also shown to interact with some of the voltage-sensitive conductances: activation of the Ca current by a brief conditioning prepulse is capable of attenuating the photocurrent evoked by a subsequent test flash. Thus, Ca channels in these cells may not only shape the photoresponse, but also participate in the process of light adaptation.

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