A CNS catecholaminergic cell line expresses voltage-gated currents.
CATH.a is a central nervous system (CNS) catecholaminergic cell line derived from a transgenic mouse carrying the SV40 T antigen oncogene under the transcriptional control of regulatory elements from the rat tyrosine hydroxylase gene (Suri et al., 1993). CATH.a cells express several differentiated neuronal characteristics including medium and light chain neurofilament proteins, synaptophysin, tyrosine hydroxylase, and dopamine beta-hydroxylase; they synthesize dopamine and norepinephrine. Conversely, they do not express glial-specific fibrillary acidic protein. To establish definitively that CATH.a cells are of neuronal origin, we characterized the repertoire of voltage-gated inward currents expressed by CATH.a cells. Such inward currents are necessary for neuronal excitability. We report that all CATH.a cells possess a tetrodotoxin-sensitive sodium current (peak amplitude = 590 +/- 319 pA) and 68% possess a high voltage-activated calcium current (peak amplitude = 175 +/- 67 pA). Pharmacological analyses suggest that individual cells express varying levels of L- and N-type calcium current, but no P-type current. In addition, in 55% of the cells with a calcium current, about a half of this current is resistant to selective antagonists for L- and N-type currents, suggesting that another calcium current exists in these CATH.a cells which is not L-, N-, or P-type. The heterogeneous pattern of current detected persisted in several CATH. a subclones, suggesting that factors other than genetic variability influence current expression. The demonstration that CATH.a cells express these currents indicates that they have excitable membrane properties characteristic of neurons. Although many peripheral nervous system (PNS) cell lines exist, very few CNS cell lines with differentiated neuronal properties exist. Since the CATH.a cells can be grown continuously in large amounts, they may be useful for purifying, characterizing, and/or cloning various neuronal-specific molecules and thereby may add to our understanding of CNS catecholaminergic neurons.
Lazaroff, M; Dunlap, K; Chikaraishi, DM
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