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A number of diverse cellular functions (contraction, secretion, etc.) are known to be regulated by fluctuations in the free calcium ion concentration in the cytosol ( 1 ). One important source of these divalent ions is the calcium reservoir in the extracellular fluid (1). Calcium ions can be mobilized from this external pool by the operation of calcium channels that are anchored in the plasma membrane ( 1 ) . The obvious involvement of these membrane-bound ion chanÂ nels in the regulation of essential cellular functions has generated considerable interest in and exploration of their functional characteristics. This article deals with three aspects of the operation of calcium channels. The nrst section contains a qualitative description of the functional properties of different types of calcium channels. This is followed by an overview of the manner in which pharmacological agents may modify the functional behavior of calcium chanÂ nels. Lastly, a discussion of the various types of calcium channels that appear to exist in smooth muscle cells is presented. FUNCTIONAL CHARACTERISTICS OF CALCIUM CHANNELS Ion Permeation A calcium channel residing in the membrane of a eukaryotic cell is viewed as being a macromolecular structure consisting essentially of one or
Annual Review of Pharmacology and Toxicology – Annual Reviews
Published: Apr 1, 1986
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