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J Theor Biol. 1985 Sep 7;116(1):111-26.

Possible forms for dwell-time histograms from single-channel current records.


Certain macromolecules embedded in the cell membranes of a variety of cells behave as gated ion-selective pores or channels. The length of time that a channel remains open or closed is not deterministic in nature and must be described in terms of relative probabilities. If channels act independently of each other and appropriate experimental conditions can be maintained, the behavior of a channel can be described by a homogeneous Markov process. Using this representation, the relative probability of observing openings (or closings) of various durations can be described by a sum of discrete components which are related to the underlying model of the kinetic behavior of the channel. Generally, these discrete components are taken to be simple decaying exponentials; however, exponentially decaying oscillatory components (as well as certain others which are discussed) are consistent with the Markov process representation. The presence of components other than simple decaying exponentials is shown to imply the violation of detailed balance in the steady-state (which requires energy), and thus, the presence of cyclic pathways in models which accurately represent the kinetic behavior of the channel. Oscillatory components, if present, will in general decay at a faster rate than the slowest decaying component, which, except under a very restricted set of conditions, will be a simple exponential.

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