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J Neurosci. 1988 Dec;8(12):4765-79.

Single-channel analysis of four distinct classes of potassium channels in Drosophila muscle.

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Department of Neurobiology, Stanford University School of Medicine, California 94305.


A number of mutations have been shown to affect potassium channels in Drosophila muscle. Single-channel analysis of the effects of mutations will prove a powerful approach for studying the molecular mechanisms of ion channel gating. As an initial step towards studying the effects of mutations at the single-channel level, we have characterized wild-type potassium channels in cultured embryonic myotubes using whole-cell, cell-attached, inside-out, and outside-out configurations of the patch-clamp technique. The myotubes differentiate in vitro from primary cultures of late-gastrula stage embryos of Drosophila. The whole-cell outward currents develop in a characteristic sequence. At 8 hr after plating a small delayed outward current is present. Between 10 and 12 hr after plating an A-type outward current develops, followed, between 13 and 16 hr, by a large increase in the delayed current. The A-type current is absent at all developmental stages in myotubes homozygous for the mutant ShKS133. At least 4 different types of potassium channels contribute to the whole-cell outward currents: a fast transient 14 pS A-type potassium channel (A1), a slowly inactivating 14 pS potassium channel (KD), a 40 pS potassium channel that does not inactivate during voltage pulses up to 2.4 sec in duration (KO), and a 90 pS potassium channel that is strongly activated by membrane stretch (KST). Channels indistinguishable from the KD and KST channels were also observed in patch-clamp studies on larval body wall muscle fibers. A1 channels were also present in intact dorsal longitudinal flight muscles. The A1 channel underlies the rapidly inactivating component of the whole-cell current. It inactivates with a similar time course and voltage dependence to the A-current and is similarly blocked by 5 mM 4-aminopyridine. The KD channel underlies a large fraction of the delayed component of the whole-cell current. Ensemble averages of single KD channels inactivate with the same time course as the delayed current. The KO channel represents a smaller fraction of the whole-cell delayed outward current. Its increase in open probability with voltage is due primarily to a voltage dependence of its closed times. The KST channel is voltage and calcium independent and would therefore only contribute to the leak whole-cell current.

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