The effect of ions on the light-sensitive current of retinal rods was studied by sucking the inner segment into a tightly fitting capillary with the outer segment projecting into a flowing solution. This new method showed that the light-sensitive pathway, in which Na+ is them normal carrier of current, has an ionic selectivity different from that of other known sodium channels. External calcium has a striking effect on the current, which increased about 20-fold when all calcium was removed. Reducing the sodium concentration gradient greatly prolonged the response to a flash of light, as would be expected if internal calcium blocks sodium channels and if light releases calcium which is subsequently extruded by a sodium-calcium exchange mechanism.
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