Dual modulation of K channels by thyrotropin-releasing hormone in clonal pituitary cells

J. M. Dubinsky, G. S. Oxford

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Transmembrane electrical activity in pituitary tumor cells can be altered by substances that either stimulate or inhibit their secretory activity. Using patch recording techniques, we have measured the resting membrane potentials, action potentials, transmembrane macroscopic ionic currents, and single Ca2+-activated K channel currents of GH3 and GH4/C1 rat pituitary tumor cells in respone to thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH). TRH, which stimulates prolactin secretion, causes a transient hyperpolarization of the membrane potential followed by a period of elevated action potential frequency. In single cells voltage clamped and internally dialyzed with solutions containing K+, TRH application results in a transient increase in Ca2+-activated K currents and a more protracted decrease in voltage-dependent K currents. However, in cells internally dialyzed with K+-free solutions, TRH produces no changes in inward Ca2+ or Ba2+ currents through voltage-dependent Ca channels. The time courses of the effects on Ca2+-activated and voltage-dependent K currents correlate with the phases of hyperpolarization and hyperexcitability, respectively. During application of TRH to whole cells, single Ca2+-activated K channel activity increases in cell-attached patches not directly exposed to TRH. In contrast, TRH applied directly to excised membrane patches produces no change in single Ca2+-activated K channel behavior. We conclude that TRH (i) triggers intracellular Ca2+ release, which opens Ca2+-activated K channels, (ii) depresses voltage-dependent K channels during the hyperexcitable phase, which further elevated intracellular Ca2+, and (iii) does not directly modulate Ca channel activity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4282-4286
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number12
StatePublished - 1985


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