Ionic currents in normal and neurofibromatosis type 1-affected human schwann cells: Induction of tumor cell K current in normal schwann cells by cyclic AMP

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Comparisons were made of whole cell voltage clamp recordings from cultures of normal Schwann cells (SC) from three human subjects and from three neurofibrosarcoma cell lines. The whole cell K+ (K) currents of normal and tumor cells could be divided into three types based on voltage activation range, pharmacology, and macroscopic inactivation: A type current, tetraethylammonium- (TEA-) only-sensitive current, and inward rectifier current. The most conspicuous difference between normal and tumor cells was the nature of K currents present. Normal SC K currents were inactivating, A type currents blocked by extracellular 4-aminopyridine (4-AP; 5 mM). The whole cell K currents of tumor cells were non-inactivating due to the presence of non-inactivating A current, or non-inactivating, TEA-only sensitive current, or both, despite the presence of inactivating A current in some tumor cells. TEA-only-sensitive currents, which were 4-AP-insensitive and non-inactivating, were common in all three tumor cell lines, but were not observed in normal SC. Inward rectifier K currents were a conspicuous feature of two of the tumor cells lines but were rarely observed in whole cell recordings of normal SC. The properties of Na+ currents recorded in both normal and tumor cells were not significantly different. Treatment of normal SC with a membrane-permeant analog of cyclic AMP (cAMP) resulted in functional expression of the TEA-only-sensitive K currents typical of tumor cells. These results establish the abnormal ion channel profile of neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1)-tumor cells and suggest (Guo et al.: Science 276:795-798, 1997) that regulation of ionic currents by second messengers may involve the NF1 gene.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)495-506
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Neuroscience Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 15 1998



  • A current
  • K current
  • Na current
  • Neurofibromatosis
  • Patch clamp
  • Proliferation
  • Schwann cell

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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