Rapid inactivation of Ca2+ release-activated Ca2+ (CRAC) channels was studied in Jurkat leukemic T lymphocytes using whole-cell patch clamp recording and [Ca2+]i measurement techniques. In the presence of 22 mM extracellular Ca2+, the Ca2+ current declined with a biexponential time course (time constants of 8-30 ms and 50-150 ms) during hyperpolarizing pulses to potentials more negative than -40 mV. Several lines of evidence suggest that the fast inactivation process is Ca2+ but not voltage dependent. First, the speed and extent of inactivation are enhanced by conditions that increase the rate of Ca2+ entry through open channels. Second, inactivation is substantially reduced when Ba2+ is present as the charge carrier. Third, inactivation is slowed by intracellular dialysis with BAPTA (12 mM), a rapid Ca2+ buffer, but not by raising the cytoplasmic concentration of EGTA, a slower chelator, from 1.2 to 12 mM. Recovery from fast inactivation is complete within 200 ms after repolarization to -12 mV. Rapid inactivation is unaffected by changes in the number of open CRAC channels or global [Ca2+]i. These results demonstrate that rapid inactivation of ICRAC results from the action of Ca2+ in close proximity to the intracellular mouths of individual channels, and that Ca2+ entry through one CRAC channel does not affect neighboring channels. A simple model for Ca2+ diffusion in the presence of a mobile buffer predicts multiple Ca2+ inactivation sites situated 3-4 nm from the intracellular mouth of the pore, consistent with a location on the CRAC channel itself.

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