Although L-type Ca2+ channels have been shown to play a central role in cardiac excitation-contraction (E-C) coupling, little is known about the role of T-type Ca2+ channels in this process. We used the amphotericin B perforated patch method to study the possible role of T-type Ca2+ current in E-C coupling in isolated canine Purkinje myocytes where both Ca2+ currents are large. T-type Ca2+ current was separated from L-type Ca2+ current using protocols employing the different voltage dependencies of the channel types and their different sensitivities to pharmacological blockade. We showed that Ca2+ admitted through either T- or L-type Ca2+ channels is capable of initiating contraction and that the contractions dependent on Ca2+-induced Ca2+ release from the sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR). The contractions, however, had different properties. Those initiated by Ca2+ entry through T-type Ca2+ channels had a longer delay to the onset of shortening, slower rates of shortening and relaxation, lower peak shortening, and longer time to peak shortening. These differences were present even when L-type Ca2+ current amplitude, or charge entry, was less than that of T- type Ca2+ current, suggesting that Ca2+ entry through the T-type Ca2+ channel is a less effective signal transduction mechanism to the SR than is Ca2+ entry through the L-type Ca2+ channel. We conclude that under our experimental conditions in cardiac Purkinje cells Ca2+ entry through the T- type Ca2+ channel can activate cell contraction. However, Ca2+ entry through the L-type Ca2+ channel is a more effective signal transduction mechanism. Our findings support the concept that different structural relationships exist between these channel types and the SR Ca2+ release mechanism.
ASJC Scopus subject areas