Journal of Physiology-London vol:502 ( Pt 2) pages:235-47
1. The effect of removing extracellular divalent cations on resting potential (Vrest) and background conductance of rat cardiac muscle was studied. Vrest was measured with 3 M KCl-filled microelectrodes in papillary muscles, or with a patch electrode in ventricular myocytes. Whole-cell membrane currents were measured in myocytes using step or ramp voltage commands. 2. In both muscles and single cells, decrease or removal of Ca2+o and Mg2+o caused a nifedipine-resistant depolarization, which was reversed upon readmission of Ca2+o or Mg2+o (half-maximal effect at 0.8 mM Ca2+o or 3 mM Mg2+o in muscles). 3. In single myocytes, removal of Ca2+o and Mg2+o had no effect on the seal resistance in nonruptured cell-attached recordings, but reversibly induced a current with a reversal potential (Vrev) of -8 +/- 3.4 mV (with internal Cs+; mean +/- S.E.M., n = 23) during whole-cell recordings. The current was insensitive to nifedipine (3-100 microM) or amiloride (1 mM). Vrev was insensitive to changes in the equilibrium potential for chloride ions (ECl). 4. The current induced in the absence of extracellular divalent cations was blocked in a concentration-dependent manner by Ca2+o. (At -80 mV, the affinity constant KCa was 60 microM with a Hill coefficient of 0.9) KCa was voltage dependent at positive but not negative potentials. Mg2+o, Ni2+o, Sr2+o, Ba2+o, Cd2+o and Gd3+o also blocked the current. 5. In 0 mM Na+ (145 mM NMDG+), the inward component of the divalent cation-sensitive current was decreased and Vrev shifted to more negative potentials. 6. These results suggest that a novel conductance pathway, permeable to monovalent cations but not to Cl- and blocked by divalent cations, exists in ventricular myocytes.