The development of voltage-dependent ionic conductances of foetal mouse spinal cord neurones was examined using the whole-cell patch-clamp technique on neurones cultured from embryos aged 10-12 days (E10-E12) which were studied between the first day in vitro (V1) to V10. A delayed rectifier potassium conductance (Ik) and a leak conductance were observed in neurones of E10, V1, E11, V1, and E12, V1 as well as in neurones cultured for longer periods. A rapidly activating and inactivating potassium conductance (IA) was seen in neurones from E11. V2 and E12, V1 and at longer times in vitro. A tetrodotoxin (TTX) sensitive sodium-dependent inward current was observed in neurones of E11 and E12 from V1 onwards. Calcium-dependent conductances were not detectable in these neurones unless the external calcium concentration was raised 10-to 20-fold and potassium conductances were blocked. Under these conditions calcium currents could be observed as early as E11. V3 and E12, V2 and at subsequent times in vitro. The pattern of development of voltage-dependent ionic conductances in murine spinal neurones is such that initially leak and potassium currents are present followed by sodium current and subsequently calcium current.
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