• patch-clamp;
  • calcium;
  • quisqualic acid;
  • AMPA;
  • mouse


Trans-1-amino-cyclopentyl-1,3-dicarboxylic acid (trans-ACPD), a specific agonist of the glutamate phosphoinositide-coupled receptor (Qp receptor), increased the amplitude of the outward K+ current recorded in the whole-cell configuration of the patch-clamp technique in mouse cultured cerebellar granule cells. This effect was abolished by buffering internal Ca2+ with BAPTA [1,2-bis(2-aminophenoxy)ethane-N,N,N′,N′-tetraacetic acid]. Activation of a large-conductance K+ channel was observed when trans-ACPD or quisqualic acid (QA), another Qp receptor agonist, was applied outside the cell-attached patch pipettes. No activation was observed with alpha-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid (AMPA), a specific agonist of ionotropic non-N-methyl-d-aspartate (non-NMDA) receptors. The effects of trans-ACPD or QA were potentiated in the presence of external Ca2+. The channel was also directly activated by both micromolar concentrations of internal Ca2+ and membrane depolarization. Its unitary conductance was 100–115 pS under asymmetrical K+ and 195–235 pS under high symmetrical K+ conditions. In the absence of agonist, the channel was blocked by 1 mM external tetraethylammonium. This is the first description of a large conductance Ca2+-activated K+ channel in cultured cerebellar granule cells. It possesses properties similar to those of the so-called ‘big K+ channel’ described in other preparations. Our cell-attached experiments demonstrated an indirect coupling between Qp receptors and this channel. The most likely hypothesis is that the second messenger system inositol 1,4,5-triphosphate (IP3)-Ca2+ was involved in the coupling process. This hypothesis was further strengthened by our whole-cell experiments. On the basis of the voltage- and Ca2+-sensitivities of the studied channel, we estimated an increase of 350 to 570 nM in internal Ca2+ concentration when Qp receptors were stimulated by 100 μM trans-ACPD. Under physiological conditions, stimulation of Qp receptors by the endogenous neurotransmitter should lead to similar K+ channel activation and therefore would tend to reduce the efficacy of ionotropic glutamate synaptic receptor stimulation responsible for cell excitation.