1. The cAMP‐gated Na+ current (INa, cAMP) was studied in axotomized neurons of the pedal ganglion of the sea slug Pleurobranchaea. INa, cAMP responses were elicited by iontophoretic injection of cAMP and recorded in voltage clamp. 2. The current‐voltage relation for INa, cAMP was flat between ‐90 and ‐50 mV, but declined steeply with depolarization from ‐50 to ‐30 mV. Depolarizing pulses also suppressed the INa, cAMP response, which recovered slowly over tens of seconds. 3. The inactivating effects of depolarization on the current were abolished both by blockade of Ca2+ current and intracellular injection of Ca2+ chelator. Thus, Ca2+ influx through voltage‐dependent Ca2+ channels probably mediates inactivation of INa, cAMP within its normal physiological range of action. 4. Increasing intracellular cAMP levels antagonized the effects of Ca2+ influx on INa, cAMP. The mutual antagonism of the ions suggests that cAMP and Ca2+ act competitively in regulation of the INa, cAMP channel. 5. Measures of fractional inactivation of INa, cAMP provided evidence for the existence of an appreciable basal level of current, and hence cAMP, in the unstimulated neuron. Since INa, cAMP is a direct function of cAMP activity, measures of fractional inactivation permit quantification of cAMP levels in the living neuron. 6. Calcium inactivation of INa, cAMP completes a negative feedback loop that can contribute to endogenous burst activity. Over the burst cycle, depolarization and action potential activity driven by INa, cAMP would lead to Ca2+ influx, consequent inactivation of the inward current, and hyperpolarization. This mechanism of endogenous bursting resembles other in which the burst cycle has been found to be regulated by kinetics of Ca2+ influx and removal. However, INa, cAMP may vary in its Ca2+ sensitivity in different neurons and these variations may affect the functional expression of endogenous oscillatory activity.
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