Send to

Choose Destination
Biophys J. 1992 Feb;61(2):494-508.

Modeling ion permeation through batrachotoxin-modified Na+ channels from rat skeletal muscle with a multi-ion pore.

Author information

Department of Pharmacology, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut 06510.


The mechanism of ion permeation through Na+ channels that have been modified by batrachotoxin (BTX) and inserted into planar bilayers has been generally described by models based on single-ion occupancy, with or without an influence of negative surface charge, depending on the tissue source. For native Na+ channels there is evidence suggestive of a multi-ion conduction mechanism. To explore the question of ion occupancy, we have reexamined permeation of Na+, Li+, and K+ through BTX-modified Na+ channels from rat skeletal muscle. Single-channel current-voltage (I-V) behavior was studied in neutral lipid bilayers in the presence of symmetrical Na+ concentrations ranging from 0.5 to 3,000 mM. The dependence of unitary current on the mole fraction of Na+ was also examined in symmetrical mixtures of Na(+)-Li+ and Na(+)-K+ at a constant total ionic strength of 206 and 2,006 mM. The dependence of unitary conductance on symmetrical Na+ concentration does not exhibit Michaelis-Menten behavior characteristic of single-ion occupancy but can be simulated by an Eyring-type model with three barriers and two sites (3B2S) that includes double occupancy and ion-ion repulsion. Best-fit energy barrier profiles for Na+, Li+, and K+ were obtained by nonlinear curve fitting of I-V data using the 3B2S model. The Na(+)-Li+ and Na(+)-K+ mole-fraction experiments do not exhibit an anomalous mole-fraction effect. However, the 3B2S model is able to account for the biphasic dependence of unitary conductance on symmetrical [Na+] that is suggestive of multiple occupancy and the monotonic dependence of unitary current on the mole fraction of Na+ that is compatible with single or multiple occupancy. The best-fit 3B2S barrier profiles also successfully predict bi-ionic reversal potentials for Na(+)-Li+ and Na(+)-K+ in both orientations across the channel. Our experimental and modeling results reconcile the dual personality of ion permeation through Na+ channels, which can display features of single or multiple occupancy under various conditions. To a first approximation, the 3B2S model developed for this channel does not require corrections for vestibule surface charge. However, if negative surface charges of the protein do influence conduction, the conductance behavior in the limit of low [Na+] does not correspond to a Gouy-Chapman model of planar surface charge.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center