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Biophys J. 1981 May;34(2):271-91.

Blockage of squid axon potassium conductance by internal tetra-N-alkylammonium ions of various sizes.

Abstract

We have studied the effects of the tetra-n-alkylammonium (TAA) ions, (CnH2n+1)4N+, n = 1-6, on the potassium conductance of voltage-clamped squid giant axons. Studies using tetrahexylammonium were not quantitatively analyzed as its effect was insufficiently reversible. Each in this series of symmetric ions of graded size blocks the potassium conductance when added to the internal perfusion fluid. There is a general trend for blocking potency to increase with increasing size. We attribute this to stronger interactions of the longer alkyl side chains with hydrophobic regions of the membrane near the channels. Steady-state block by the TAA ions, n = 2-5, showed identical voltage dependence, apparently sensing about 15% of the transmembrane voltage, and kinetics block onset were qualitatively similar. We conclude that the site of action for these ions is the same. Block by TMA is about twice as steeply dependent on voltage. In its action, TMA resembles the alkali cations (French et al., 1979, Biophys, J. 25(2, pt. 2):307a) more than the larger TAA ions. Our results suggest that access to the inner mouth of the K channel is even less restricted than has been previously thought. A calculation indicates that the lumen of the channel cannot be both wide enough to admit the TAA ions and long enough to account for the voltage dependence of block. We consider possible ways to resolve this paradox.

PMID:
7236852
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC1327471
Free PMC Article
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