Pawns are behavioural mutants (in one of three genes) of Paramecium aurelia that have lost, to varying degrees, the reversal response which is thought to depend on the calcium influx during excitation. This report shows that all of the single and double mutants have reduced active inward (calcium) current, the reduction correlating with the degree of behavioural deficit. All of the mutants display normal resting potential, input impedance and delayed rectification. Mutants in genes pwA and pwC show normal anomalous rectification, but pwB mutants do not show anomalous rectification until the membrane is hyperpolarized further. We suggest that the pwA gene plays a role in depolarization sensitivity (the ‘gate’) and the pwB gene a role affecting either the wall of the channel itself or the total number of channels.

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