Blackwell Publishing Journal Backfiles 1879-2005
Ca2+ oscillations regulate secretion of the hormone alpha-melanphore-stimulating hormone (α-MSH) by the neuroendocrine pituitary melanotrope cells of the amphibian Xenopus laevis. These Ca2+ oscillations are built up by discrete increments in the intracellular Ca2+ concentration, the Ca2+ steps, which are generated by electrical membrane bursting firing activity. It has been demonstrated that the patterns of Ca2+ oscillations and kinetics of the Ca2+ steps can be modulated by changing the degree of intracellular Ca2+ buffering. We hypothesized that neurotransmitters known to regulate α-MSH secretion also modulate the pattern of Ca2+ oscillations and related electrical membrane activity. In this study, we tested this hypothesis for the secretagogue sauvagine. Using high temporal-resolution Ca2+ imaging, we show that sauvagine modulated the pattern of Ca2+ signalling by increasing the frequency of Ca2+ oscillations and inducing a broadening of the oscillations through its effect on various Ca2+ step parameters. Second, we demonstrate that sauvagine caused a small but significant decrease in K+ currents measured in the whole-cell voltage-clamp, whereas Ca2+ currents remained unchanged. Third, in the cell-attached patch-clamp mode, a stimulatory effect of sauvagine on action current firing was observed. Moreover, sauvagine changed the shape of individual action currents. These results support the hypothesis that the secretagogue sauvagine stimulates the frequency of Ca2+ oscillations in Xenopus melanotropes by altering Ca2+ step parameters, an action that likely is evoked by an inhibition of K+ currents.
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