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J Gen Physiol. 1986 Jun;87(6):985-1001.

Slow permeation of organic cations in acetylcholine receptor channels.


Block, permeation, and agonist action of small organic amine compounds were studied in acetylcholine receptor (AChR) channels. Single channel conductances were calculated from fluctuation analysis at the frog neuromuscular junction and measured by patch clamp of cultured rat myotubes. The conductance was depressed by a few millimolar external dimethylammonium, arginine, dimethyldiethanolammonium, and Tris. Except with dimethylammonium, the block was intensified with hyperpolarization. A two-barrier Eyring model describes the slowed permeation and voltage dependence well for the three less permeant test cations. The cations were assumed to pause at a site halfway across the electric field of the channel while passing through it. For the voltage-independent action of highly permeant dimethylammonium, a more appropriate model might be a superficial binding site that did not prevent the flow of other ions, but depressed it. Solutions of several amine compounds were found to have agonist activity at millimolar concentrations, inducing brief openings of AChR channels on rat myotubes in the absence of ACh.

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