Membrane potential responses of Paramecium caudatum to an application of K+-rich solution were examined to understand the mechanisms underlying K+-induced backward swimming. A wild-type cell impaled by a microelectrode produced action potentials followed by a sustained depolarization in response to an application of a K+-rich test solution. After termination of the application, a prolongation of the depolarization (depolarizing after-potential) took place. Behavioral mutants incapable of exhibiting K+-induced backward swimming did not show depolarizing afterpotentials. Upon short application of K+-rich solution, the timing and duration of the ciliary reversal of the wild-type cell coincided well with the K+-induced depolarization. The duration of the depolarizing afterpotential decreased as the duration of the application increased. The depolarizing afterpotential recovered slowly after it had been suppressed by a preceding application of the K+-rich solution. By injection of an outward current into the wild-type cell, the action potentials were evoked normally during the period when the K+-induced depolarizing afterpotential was suppressed. We concluded that the prolongation of the depolarizing membrane potential response following the application of the K+-rich solution represents the Ca2+ conductance responsible for the K+-induced backward swimming in P. caudatum and that the characteristics of the K+-induced Ca2+ conductance are distinct from those of the Ca2+ conductance responsible for the action potentials.
The Journal of Membrane Biology – Springer Journals
Published: Dec 1, 2002
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