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Biophys J. 1991 Dec;60(6):1499-510.

Single-channel, macroscopic, and gating currents from sodium channels in the squid giant axon.

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Department of Biological Sciences, University of California, Santa Barbara 93106.


Single-channel, macroscopic ionic, and macroscopic gating currents were recorded from the voltage-dependent sodium channel using patch-clamp techniques on the cut-open squid giant axon. To obtain a complete set of physiological measurements of sodium channel gating under identical conditions, and to facilitate comparison with previous work, comparison was made between currents recorded in the absence of extracellular divalent cations and in the presence of physiological concentrations of extracellular Ca2+ (10 mM) and Mg2+ (50 mM). The single-channel currents were well resolved when divalent cations were not included in the extracellular solution, but were decreased in amplitude in the presence of Ca2+ and Mg2+ ions. The instantaneous current-voltage relationship obtained from macroscopic tail current measurements similarly was depressed by divalents, and showed a negative slope-conductance region for inward current at negative potentials. Voltage dependent parameters of channel gating were shifted 9-13 mV towards depolarized potentials by external divalent cations, including the peak fraction of channels open versus voltage, the time constant of tail current decline, the prepulse inactivation versus voltage relationship, and the charge-voltage relationship for gating currents. The effects of divalent cations are consistent with open channel block by Ca2+ and Mg2+ together with divalent screening of membrane charges.

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