SECRETORY cells of the chicken pineal gland exhibit light-sensitive circadian rhythms in melatonin release that persist in vitro1–12. Melatonin secretion is positively regulated by cyclic AMP and intracellular Ca2+ (refs 8, 10–15). Cyclic AMP analogues are more effective at stimulating melatonin secretion during the circadian night owing in part to increased Ca2+ influx at those times12. However, this cannot be attributed to increased activity of L-type Ca2+ channels12. Here we describe an unusual 40-pS cationic channel (ILOT) m cultured chicken pineal cells that is permeable to Ca2+ and active in the night but not during the day. ILOT is not voltage- or stretch-activated, it has a characteristically long open time, and its gating persists in excised inside-out patches in the absence of Ca2+ or cyclic nucleotides. Daily rhythms in ILOT gating are also observed in previously entrained chicken pineal cells free-running under constant dark conditions. Nighttime ILOT activity is not suppressed by brief light pulses.
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D'Souza, T., Dryer, S. A cationic channel regulated by a vertebrate intrinsic circadian oscillator. Nature 382, 165–167 (1996). https://doi.org/10.1038/382165a0
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