Thapsigargin, an inhibitor of the microsomal Ca2+ pumps, has been extensively used to study the intracellular Ca2+ pool participating in the generation of the agonist-induced Ca2+ signal in various cell types. A dual effect of this agent was observed in bovine adrenal zona glomerulosa cells. At nanomolar concentrations, thapsigargin stimulated a sustained Ca2+ influx, probably resulting from Ca(2+)-store depletion. In contrast, when added at micromolar concentrations, thapsigargin prevented the rise in cytosolic free Ca2+ concentration ([Ca2+]c) induced by K+. This inhibitory effect of thapsigargin on voltage-activated Ca2+ channels was confirmed by measuring Ba2+ currents by the patch-clamp technique. Both low-threshold (T-type) and high-threshold (L-type) Ca2+ channels were affected by micromolar concentrations of thapsigargin. Analysis of the current-voltage relationship for T-type channels revealed that thapsigargin did not modify the sensitivity of these channels to the voltage, but decreased the maximal current flowing through the channels. In conclusion, thapsigargin appears to exert a dual effect on adrenal glomerulosa cells. At lower concentrations, this agent induces a sustained Ca2+ entry, whereas at higher concentrations it decreases [Ca2+]c by blocking voltage-activated Ca2+ channels.

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