Light induced changes of internal pH in a barnacle photoreceptor and the effect of internal pH on the receptor potential

H M Brown, R W Meech

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


1. Intracellular pH (pH1) was measured in Balanus photoreceptors using pH-sensitive glass micro-electrodes. The average pH1 of twelve photoreceptors which had been dark adapted for at least 30 min was 7.3 +/- 0.07 (S.D.). 2. Illumination reduced the recorded pH1 by as much as 0.2 pH unit. The change in pH1 was graded with light intensity. 3. When the cells were exposed to CO2 in the dark, pH1 declined monophasically. Saline equilibrated with 2% CO2; 98% O2 produced a steady reduction in pH1 of about 0.25 unit in 2--3 min. The buffering capacity of the receptor cell cytoplasm calculated from such experiments is approximately 15 slykes. 4. In the presence of HCO3-1, CO2 saline produced smaller, biphasic changes in pH1. 5. The membrane depolarization produced by a bright flash (depolarizing receptor potential) was reversibly reduced in the presence of external CO2 or by injection of H+. Iontophoretic injection of HCO2- increased the amplitude of the receptor potential. 6. In individual cells there was a close correlation between the amplitude of the receptor potential and pH1. 7. Saline equilibrated with CO2 reduced the light induced current (recorded under voltage-clamp) by 40--50% without affecting its reversal potential. 8. Exposure of the receptor to 95% CO2 saline for several minutes (pH0 5.5) not only abolished the receptor potential but also reversibly decreased the K conductance of the membrane in the dark. These effects were not reproduced by pH0 5.5 buffered saline or by a 5 min exposure to saline equilibrated with N2. 9. It is suggested that changes in pH1 induced by light modulate the sensitivity of the receptor under physiological conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)73-93
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Physiology
Issue number0
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1979


  • Animals
  • Bicarbonates
  • Carbon Dioxide
  • Cytoplasm
  • Dark Adaptation
  • Electric Conductivity
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Membrane Potentials
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Photoreceptor Cells
  • Thoracica

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