The neuropeptide somatostatin inhibits secretion from electrically excitable cells in the pituitary, pancreas, gut and brain. In mammalian pituitary tumour cells somatostatin inhibits secretion through two distinct pertussis toxin-sensitive mechanisms. One involves inhibition of adenylyl cyclase, the other an unidentified cyclic AMP-independent mechanism that reduces Ca2+ influx by increasing membrane conductance to potassium. Here we demonstrate that the predominant electrophysiological effect of somatostatin on metabolically intact pituitary tumour cells is a large, sustained increase in the activity of the large-conductance Ca2+- and voltage-activated K+ channels (BK). This action of somatostatin does not involve direct effects of Ca2+, cAMP or G proteins on the channels. Our results indicate instead that somatostatin stimulates BK channel activity through protein dephosphorylation.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/richard_white/47/