As T-type calcium channels open near resting membrane potential and markedly influence neuronal excitability their activity needs to be tightly regulated. Few neuronal T-current regulations have been described so far, but interestingly some of them involve unusual mechanisms like G protein-independent but receptor-coupled modulation, while the use of recombinant channels has established both a direct action of Gβγ subunits, anandamide, arachidonic acid and a phophorylation process by CaMKII. Nearly all reported types of modulation involve Cav3.2 channels while no regulation of Cav3.1 has been reported, a difference that may originate from diversities in the intracellular loop connecting the II and III domains of the two isotypes. The search for T-current regulators requires taking into account their peculiar activation properties, since a close link may exist between the channel conformation and its modulation. Indeed, in thalamocortical neurons a phosphorylationmediated regulation of the amplitude of the T-current has been shown to be highly dependent upon the state of the channel and only to become apparent when the channels are in the voltage range close to neuronal resting membrane potential.
Keywords: Cav3.1, Cav3.2, Cav3.3, regulation, kinases, second messenger, thalamocortical neurons, dorsal root ganglion