Modulation of big K+ channel activity by ryanodine receptors and L-type Ca2+ channels in neurons


Correspondence: L. Fagni, as above. E-mail:


As metabotropic glutamate receptor type 1 (mGluR1) is known to couple L-type Ca2+ channels and ryanodine receptors (RyR, Chavis et al. 1996) in cerebellar granule cells, we examined if such a coupling could activate a Ca2+-sensitive K+ channel, the big K+ (BK) channel, in cultured cerebellar granule cells. We observed that (±)-1-amino-cyclopentane-trans-1,3-dicarboxylic acid (t-ACPD) and quisqualate (QA) stimulated the activity of BK channels. On the other hand, (2S, 3S, 4S)-α-carboxycyclopropyl-glycine (L-CCG-I) and l-(+)-2-amino-4-phosphonobutyrate (L-AP4) had no effect on BK channels, indicating a specific activation by group I mGluRs. Group I mGluRs stimulation of the basal BK channel activity was mimicked by caffeine and both effects were blocked by ryanodine and nifedipine. Interestingly, carbachol stimulated BK channel activity but through a pertussis toxin (PTX)-sensitive pathway that was independent of L-type Ca2+ channel activity. Our report indicates that unlike the muscarinic receptors, group I mGluRs activate BK channels by mobilizing an additional pathway involving RyR and L-type Ca2+ channels.