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Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 1975 Jun 10;270(908):301-18.

Negative surface charge near sodium channels of nerve: divalent ions, monovalent ions, and pH.


Evidence is given for a high density of negative surface charge near the sodium channel of myelinated nerve fibres. The voltage dependence of peak sodium permeability is measured in a voltage clamp. The object is to measure voltage shifts in sodium activation as the following external variables are varied: divalent cation concentration and type, monovalent concentration, and pH. With equimolar substitution of divalent ions the order of effectiveness for giving a positive shift is: Ba equals Sr less than Mg less than Ca less than Co approximately equal to Mn less than Ni less than Zn. A tenfold increase of concentration of any of these ions gives a shift of +20 to +25 mV. At low pH, the shift with a tenfold increase in Ca-2+ is much less than at normal pH, and conversely for high pH. Soulutions with no added divalent ions give a shift of minus 18 mV relative to 2 mM Ca-2+. Removal of 7/8 of the cations from the calcium-free solution gives a further shift of minue 35 mV. All shifts are explained quantitatively by assuming that changes in an external surface potential set up by fixed charges near the sodium channel produce the shifts. The model involves a diffuse double layer of counterions at the nerve surface and some binding of H+ions and divalent ions to the fixed charges. Three types of surface groups are postulated: (1) an acid pKa equals 2.88 charge density minus 0.9 nm- minus 2; (i) an acid pKa equals 4.58, charge density minus 0.58 nm- minus 2; (3) a base pKa equals 6.28, charge density +0.33 nm- minus 2. The two acid groups also bind Ca-2+ ions with a dissociation constant K equals 28 M. Reasonable agreement can also be obtained with a lower net surface charge density and stronger binding of divalent ions and H+ ions.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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