1. Pure populations of rat peritoneal mast cells were used to study cellular potassium uptake. The radioactive potassium analogue, 86rubidium, was used as a tracer for potassium for measurements of the activity of the cellular potassium uptake process. 2. The ouabain-sensitive and the ouabain-resistant potassium (86rubidium) uptake of mast cells incubated in the presence of calcium, 1 mmol l-1, were very low, 52 and 147 pmol per 10(6) cells min-1. 3. Calcium-deprivation of the cells uncovered a large capacity ouabain-sensitive potassium (86rubidium) uptake mechanism. The activity of the uptake mechanism was decreased by reintroduction of calcium into the cell suspension, and it was dependent on cellular energy metabolism, temperature and pH. 4. The potassium (86rubidium) uptake of mast cells incubated in a calcium-free medium occurs through an active and ouabain-sensitive mechanism that has the nature of an enzyme, and it is mediated by the Na+ -K+ pump located in the plasma membrane. It is demonstrated that the activity of the Na+ -K+ pump mechanism is inhibited by low concentrations of extracellular calcium (0.1-1.2 mmol l-1). The possibility is discussed that calcium-deprivation may increase the pump activity by increasing the permeability of the plasma membrane for Na+.
British Journal of Pharmacology, 1989, Vol 96, Issue 4, p. 773-8