Using the patch-clamp single-channel current recording technique, a cation channel in the contraluminal membrane of rat thyroid follicular cells has been characterized. The channel has a unit conductance of about 35 pS and is equally permeable to sodium and potassium. The pattern of channel opening and closing is independent of the membrane potential. The channel is only operational when the ionized calcium concentration in the fluid which is in contact with the inside of the membrane is at least 1 μM. This conductance pathway can be classified as a calcium dependent non-selective cation channel and could explain stimulant-evoked depolarizations in the thyroid follicular cells.
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