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Biophys J. 1991 Oct;60(4):845-55.

Asymmetric electrostatic effects on the gating of rat brain sodium channels in planar lipid membranes.

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1
Division of Biomedical Sciences, University of California, Riverside 92521-0121.

Abstract

The effects of ionic strength (10-1,000 mM) on the gating of batrachotoxin-activated rat brain sodium channels were studied in neutral and in negatively charged lipid bilayers. In neutral bilayers, increasing the ionic strength of the extracellular solution, shifted the voltage dependence of the open probability (gating curve) of the sodium channel to more positive membrane potentials. On the other hand, increasing the intracellular ionic strength shifted the gating curve to more negative membrane potentials. Ionic strength shifted the voltage dependence of both opening and closing rate constants of the channel in analogous ways to its effects on gating curves. The voltage sensitivities of the rate constants were not affected by ionic strength. The effects of ionic strength on the gating of sodium channels reconstituted in negatively charged bilayers were qualitatively the same as in neutral bilayers. However, important quantitative differences were noticed: in low ionic strength conditions (10-150 mM), the presence of negative charges on the membrane surface induced an extra voltage shift on the gating curve of sodium channels in relation to neutral bilayers. It is concluded that: (a) asymmetric negative surface charge densities in the extracellular (1e-/533A2) and intracellular (1e-/1,231A2) sides of the sodium channel could explain the voltage shifts caused by ionic strength on the gating curve of the channel in neutral bilayers. These surface charges create negative electric fields in both the extracellular and intracellular sides of the channel. Said electric fields interfere with gating charge movements that occur during the opening and closing of sodium channels; (b) the voltage shifts caused by ionic strength on the gating curve of sodium channels can be accounted by voltage shifts in both the opening and closing rate constants; (c) net negative surface charges on the channel's molecule do not affect the intrinsic gating properties of sodium channels but are essential in determining the relative position of the channel's gating curve; (d) provided the ionic strength is below 150 mM, the gating machinery of the sodium channel molecule is able to sense the electric field created by surface changes on the lipid membrane. I propose that during the opening and closing of sodium channels, the gating charges involved in this process are asymmetrically displaced in relation to the plane of the bilayer. Simple electrostatic calculations suggest that gating charge movements are influenced by membrane electrostatic potentials at distances of 48 and 28 A away from the plane of the membrane in the extracellular sides of the channel, respectively.

PMID:
1660316
PMCID:
PMC1260135
DOI:
10.1016/S0006-3495(91)82118-X
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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