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Whole-cell voltage-clamp techniques were used to investigate the capsaicin-, voltage- and time-dependent properties of the rat vanilloid receptor (rVR1) stably expressed in human embryonic kidney (HEK) 293 cells. At a holding potential of -70 mV, application of capsaicin (0.03-30 microM) to HEK 293 cells expressing the rVR1 receptor led to the appearance of inward currents (EC50, 497 nM; Hill coefficient, nH, 2.85) which were reversibly antagonized by 10 microM capsazepine. Current-voltage relationships, determined using depolarizing or hyperpolarizing voltage ramps, had reversal potentials close to 0 mV, exhibited substantial outward rectification and possessed a region of negative slope conductance at holding potentials negative to around -70 mV. Further experiments indicated that the outward rectification and the region of negative slope conductance did not result from external block of the channel by either Ba2+, Ca2+ or Mg2+. During our characterization of rVR1, it became apparent that the rectification behaviour of this receptor was not entirely instantaneous as might be expected for a ligand-gated ion channel, but rather displayed clear time-dependent components. We characterized the kinetics of these novel gating properties in a series of additional voltage-step experiments. The time-dependent changes in rVR1-mediated conductance due to membrane depolarization or repolarization occurred with bi-exponential kinetics. On depolarization to +70 mV the time-dependent increase in outward current developed with mean time constants of 6.7 +/- 0.7 and 51.8 +/- 18.4 ms, with the faster time constant playing a dominant role (64.4 +/- 3.8 %). Similar kinetics also described the decay of 'tail currents' observed on repolarization. Furthermore, these time-dependent changes appeared to be unaffected by the removal of extracellular divalent cations and were not significantly voltage dependent. Our data reveal that rVR1 exhibits substantial time- and voltage-dependent gating properties that may have significance for the physiology of sensory transduction of nociceptive signals.


Journal article


J Physiol

Publication Date



525 Pt 3


747 - 759


Action Potentials, Animals, Barium, Calcium, Capsaicin, Cells, Cultured, Ganglia, Spinal, Humans, Ion Channel Gating, Kidney, Kinetics, Magnesium, Neurons, Nociceptors, Patch-Clamp Techniques, Rats, Rats, Inbred Strains, Receptors, Drug, Recombinant Proteins, Time Factors, Transfection