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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

All or none cell responses of Ca2+-dependent K channels elicited by calcium or lead in human red cells can be explained by heterogeneity of agonist distribution.

We have studied the all or none cell response of Ca2+-dependent K+ channels to added Ca in human red cells depleted of ATP by incubation with iodoacetate and inosine. A procedure was used which allows separation and differential analysis of responding and nonresponding cells. Responding (H for heavy) cells incubated in medium containing 5 mM K lose KCl and water and increase their density to the point of sinking on diethylphthalate (specific gravity = 1.12) on centrifugation. Nonresponding (L for light) cells do not lose KCl at all. There is no intermediate behavior. Increasing the Ca concentration in the medium increases the fraction of cells which become H. No differences in the sensitivity to Ca2+ of the individual K+ channels were detected in inside-out vesicles prepared either from H or from L cells. The Ca content of H cells was higher than that of L cells. Cells depleted of ATP by incubation with iodoacetate and inosine sustain pump-leak Ca fluxes of about 15 mumol/liter cells per hour. ATP seems to be resynthesized in these cells at the expense of cell 2,3-diphosphoglycerate stores at a rate of about 150 mumol/liter cells per hour. Inhibition of 2,3-diphosphoglycerate phosphatase by tetrathionate increased 6-8 times the measured rate of uptake of external 45Ca. This was accompanied by an increase in the fraction of H cells. All or none cell responses of Ca2+-dependent K channels have also been evidenced in intact human red cells on addition of Pb. They have the same characteristics as those in responding and nonresponding cells. The detailed study of the kinetics of Pb-induced shrinkage of red cells suspended in medium containing 5 mM K showed that changes of Pb concentration changed not only the fraction of H cells but also the rate of shrinkage of responding cells. H cells generated by Pb treatment contained significantly more lead than L cells. The above results suggest that the two all or none cell responses studied here can be explained by heterogeneity of agonist distribution among cells. Since pump-leak fluxes exist in both cases, differences of agonist distribution could be generated by heterogeneity of pumping among cells. This interpretation turns interest from K channels to Ca pumps to explain the heterogeneous behavior of red cells in response to a uniform stimulus.[1]


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